The Education Trust-West works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-k through college.

Adequate and Equitable Funding

Adequate and Equitable Funding

In July 2013, California dramatically reformed the way it funds school districts. The new finance system, called Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), provides districts with increased base funding and additional supplemental and concentration grants targeted to support the needs of low-income students, English learners, and foster youth. LCFF will only improve educational outcomes for California’s most underserved learners if the law is implemented equitably. We must ensure that supplemental and concentration funds reach the schools and classrooms serving the 3.7 million California students who are low income, learning English, or in foster care. We must also ensure that this funding is invested in effective strategies to close opportunity and achievement gaps.

In the first years of LCFF implementation, parent and student groups, educators, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders will be critical to local implementation of the law, starting with the development of the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). This year, we will be working with partners throughout the state to make sure the promise of LCFF becomes a reality at the local level. At the state level, we will work with the Legislature and the State Board of Education to ensure that the final regulations for LCFF truly balance local flexibility with equity.

In order to ensure that California’s students have equitable access to school funding, we recommend that state leaders:

  1. At the state level, report base revenues separate from supplemental and concentration grants.
  2. Unfortunately, the public does not yet have the full fiscal transparency necessary to see how LCFF funding flows from the state to districts. The state should appropriate LCFF funding as multiple line items, with supplemental and concentration grants, at minimum, coded and reported separately from other funds such as base grants and grade-level add-ons. This will offer the public full transparency into how much LCFF funding each district is generating and for what purposes. To support this, the California
    Department of Education should make the necessary changes to school accounting codes. These codes will also help districts track and report LCFF expenditures for high-need students.

  3. Make school expenditures and plans transparent to the public.
  4. Because LCFF funds are taxpayer dollars, the public has the right to know how they are appropriated and spent at each school site. Although districts are only required to report LCFF spending districtwide, district leaders should go further by reporting total LCFF funding by school, along with details on school-level services and programs supported by supplemental and concentration grants. To ensure that data are reported accurately and fairly, districts should account for actual teacher salaries rather than issuing reports that assume each teacher earns the average district salary.

  5. Centralize and share LCAPs and budgets at the state level.
  6. The California Department of Education is statutorily required to post links to all LCAPs on its website. We recommend that, along with these plans, the Department post links to accompanying budgets. We support the State Board of Education’s plan to develop future iterations of the LCAP template as a standardized electronic form, and we encourage them to do this swiftly and to also make these data accessible through a searchable online database.

  7. Assess parent and community involvement in the LCAP and budget processes and disseminate best practices.
  8. California should monitor and assess the effectiveness of legally required parent and community engagement during the early years of LCFF implementation. As part of this, the state should fund and conduct a comprehensive study of parent and community involvement in the LCAP and budget planning processes in a sample of districts and counties across the state to identify best practices and areas for improvement. Based on the results, the Legislature and State Board of Education should refine guidelines and regulations for meaningful parent and community involvement.

  9. Hold districts accountable for spending dollars effectively and equitably.
  10. LCFF will be a success if and when student achievement and other related outcomes improve. In 2014, state leaders must develop the elements of the law’s accountability, support, and intervention mechanisms. By October 2015, the State Board of Education must adopt evaluation rubrics that: 1) allow districts to self-assess their strengths and weaknesses, 2) allow County Offices of Education to determine whether districts have met their targets or instead need support, and 3) allow the State Superintendent of Instruction to determine if a district is persistently failing and needs intervention. We recommend that these rubrics, especially the intervention rubric, include strong standards for performance and prioritize academic achievement and progress for all student subgroups. In the cases where districts are assigned support through the California Collaborative for Education Excellence, a newly formed entity created by the LCFF law, state priority areas related to academic achievement should be prioritized.


Publications on School Finance

Coalition of Education Supporters Launches New Online Resource to Support Public Transparency Around School District Plans Across California

OAKLAND, CA (July 8, 2014) – With each of California’s 1,000 school districts required to adopt their first Local Control and Accountability Plan, or LCAP, as mandated by the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), The Education Trust—West and a coalition of over 30 partner organizations from across the state launch the LCAP Watch website toda

Ed Trust–West Releases Statement in Response to Governor Brown’s 2014-2015 State Budget

OAKLAND, CA (June 20, 2014) – Valerie Cuevas, Interim Executive Director of The Education Trust—West, issued the following statement following Governor Brown’s signing of the 2014-2015 state budget today:  

“We commend the Governor and the Legislature for accelerating the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) by providing an additional $4.7 billion in the 2014-15 budget. This additional funding will strengthen the work of school districts to serve our neediest students and close achievement gaps. Unfortunately, we remain concerned about two issues. The Governor and the Legislature chose not to designate additional funding for implementation of the Common Core State Standards. All students will be subject to more rigorous state standards and assessments, but not all students will have access to fully prepared teachers, and adequate technology and instructional materials. As a result, opportunity and achievement gaps could be exacerbated rather than narrowed. Furthermore, the plan for increasing employer contributions to the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) will double the cost of retirement benefits for school districts without a plan for funding the increased contributions. Without a plan for additional funding, the increased contributions to CalSTRS will be paid at the expense of funding for the LCFF, including supplemental and concentration funding for needy students.”

Ed Trust-West Releases LCAP Evaluation Checklist

Dear Friends and Partners,

This month, districts across California are holding public hearings on their Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs) and will adopt final budget plans by the end of June. During this exciting time, stakeholders have the opportunity to review and comment on these plans.

To help support that process, The Education Trust—West (ETW) has developed a Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) Evaluation Checklist. Our LCAP Evaluation Checklist is designed to help stakeholders—including advisory committee members and the general public—review district LCAPs and frame their comments and questions. It is meant to assist in evaluating whether an LCAP meets legal requirements and whether it clearly communicates district goals and plans in keeping with the spirit of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). It is not meant to evaluate the quality or likely effectiveness of proposed programs and services.

Ed Trust–West Releases Statement in Response to Governor Brown’s May Budget Revision

OAKLAND, CA (May 13, 2014) – Valerie Cuevas, Interim Executive Director of The Education Trust—West, issued the following statement in response to Governor Brown’s May Budget Revision:


“We are happy to see that our state’s economic recovery is helping California schools receive more funding for the second year in a row. We applaud Governor Brown for his leadership and his continued commitment to the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and his effort to eliminate deferred appropriations to schools. Unfortunately, we are disappointed by the lack of additional funding for the implementation of new content standards and the inadequate funding for the technology infrastructure needed to implement new computer-adaptive assessments. Without a substantial investment in these areas, achievement gaps could be exacerbated rather than eliminated. We urge the Governor and the Legislature to reconsider. Also as California explores proposals for a Proposition 98 reserve and for paying teachers’ retirement benefits, we must not lose sight of the needs of our most vulnerable students.”

New Analysis Finds FAFSA & Cal Grant Applications Rising; Too Many Students Across California Still Not Applying for Financial Aid

OAKLAND, CA (February 25, 2014) – An analysis of newly available FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and Cal Grant application data from the California Student Aid Commission released today by The Education Trust—West finds that while the number of California high school seniors who complete FAFSA and Cal Grant applications is up from last year, there are still too many students across the state who are not applying for financial aid.

The new data reveal that the number of high school seniors who completed FAFSA and Cal Grant applications rose from 2012 to 2013, from 54 percent to 61 percent for FAFSA and from 50 percent to 58 percent respectively. Still, the fact remains that nearly 170,000 12th graders (42%) from the class of 2013 did not complete a Cal Grant application. The new findings can be found in the latest “Equity Alert” brief from The Education Trust—West, titled, Doorways to College Aid, the follow up to last year’s full report, The Cost of Opportunity: Access to College Financial Aid in California. The brief also includes a list of the Top 100 high schools in California for FAFSA completion.

2014 Policy Agenda: Tectonic Shifts in California’s Education Landscape

Dear Friends,

The past several years have jolted California’s education system like never before. Seismic shifts in school finance, standards, curriculum, and instruction sent shockwaves through our state’s education policy landscape. Long-familiar landmarks in school finance, accountability, and assessment were replaced by a host of new initiatives, including the Local Control Funding Formula, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, Common Core State Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards.

CALIFORNIA’S NEW EDUCATION FUNDING FORMULA: What is it? Who benefits? What does it mean for students? How can I get involved?

In July 2013, California dramatically reformed the way we fund our schools. The new law, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), replaces an outdated and unfair education funding system. In this guide, we provide parents and community leaders with the information they need to ensure that LCFF is not just about local control and flexibility, but also—and most importantly—about educational justice. 

To access this community guide and additional information about LCFF in multiple languages, go to the website. You will also find:

LCFF Explainer Videos;
District Funding Data Tool;
LCFF One-Page Overview (English, Spanish & Chinese);
LCFF Community PowerPoint Presentation;
Advocacy Letter Campaign Tool.

Statewide and Grassroots Organizations Across California Launch FairShare4Kids Campaign to Make Sure Funding Benefits High-Need Students in their Schools and Classrooms

OAKLAND, CA (November 5, 2013) – Days before the California State Board of Education begins its review of proposed regulations for how school districts can use billions of dollars in funding for low-income students, English Language Learners and foster youth, organizations from across California are launching the FairShare4Kids Campaign ( Coalition members including Alliance for a Better Community, Alliance San Diego, Californians for Justice, Community Coalition, Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement, The Education Trust—West, Families in Schools, Great Oakland Public Schools Leadership Center, National Center for Youth Law, Reading and Beyond, Students for Education Reform, and United Way Los Angeles are committed to working together to make sure that Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) lives up to its promise and provides additional resources to low-income students, English Learners and foster youth.

Local Control Funding Formula

"Local Control Funding Formula"

By Melissa San Miguel, External Relations Associate, The Education Trust-West 

July 30 2013

The Education Trust–West Responds to Budget Compromise

OAKLAND, CA (June 13, 2013) – Arun Ramanathan, Executive Director of the Education Trust—West, issued the following statement in response to the budget compromise:  

“ETW congratulates Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, and Speaker of the Assembly John A. Pérez  for their historic agreement to transform our state’s education finance system. Governor Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) will close longstanding funding gaps between rich and poor districts and direct additional funding to low-income students, English Learners, and foster youth.  We applaud the Governor and legislative leaders for retaining the concentration grant for students in our highest poverty districts and for moving forward with immediate implementation of the new funding formula. We are similarly encouraged by the massive new state investment in implementing the Common Core State Standards. We urge the legislature to approve LCFF and the funding for Common Core implementation.