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Policy Brief: Accountability for Alternative Schools in California

February 21, 2017
In the Media

Gardner Center Associate Director Jorge Ruiz de Velasco and  Daisy Gonzales, Associate Director of Policy Analysis for California Education, review approaches to accountability for alternative schools in a new brief published as part of the PACE Continuous Improvement Series.

About this Brief

California’s alternative education options for youth vulnerable to dropping out of school have been established at different historical points and for different student age and target populations. For purposes of this brief, we define an “alternative school” as belonging to one of six legislatively authorized types of public (non-charter) schools that meet the definitions of the Alternative School Accountability Model (ASAM). These schools are operated by different local agencies – school districts, county school boards, or juvenile justice agencies and the courts –and governed by overlapping and sometimes legislatively superseded or otherwise inoperative portions of the state Education Code. Currently, the California Department of Education (CDE) is considering the development of a new accountability system for alternative schools that aligns with Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP) for all public schools.

About the Continuous Improvement Series

Policymakers and educators at all levels of the system are wrestling with the virtually simultaneous implementation of four radically new and promising policy initiatives: the Common Core State Standards (CCSS); computer adaptive assessments developed by the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium; the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF); and a new accountability system that focuses on Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs) and an evaluation rubric rather than the traditional Academic Performance Index (API) scores. Few if any local actors have access to the kind of research-based information and guidance that PACE has provided California policymakers for more than 30 years. The PACE Continuous Improvement (CI) series provides California’s education leaders timely practice-based evidence and strategies to drive continuous improvement in the performance of schools and students, by reviewing field research and identifying promising practices that are underway.