by John Beisner
NorCal Superintendent Lisa Haynes breaks it down by answering the questions below. Click on each question to read the answer.
Q: So the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) replaced No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and in the process Five Keys was identified as a school “eligible for Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI).” Is this simply a political decision? Did we do anything wrong as a school or organization that lead to this situation?
LH: California's accountability system is based on multiple measures that assess how local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools are meeting the needs of their students. These schools are measured against the categories listed below :
No, Five Keys has not done anything wrong. Because of our status as an alternative education institution, we have been exempt from some of the requirements that were applicable to traditional schools. Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, alternative and charter schools are being held to several performance standards.
Over the last two years, we have not met the performance requirements necessary to be considered a high performing institution. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires state educational agencies to determine school eligibility for comprehensive support and improvement (CSI). Local educational agencies (LEAs) with schools that meet the criteria for CSI must partner with stakeholders to locally develop and implement a plan to improve student outcomes.
The Comprehensive Support and Intervention provides a small funding formula and an opportunity to correct low performing indicators by conducting a needs assessment, gap analysis, implementing evidence based strategies and improving our overall graduation rates and student performance on the CAASPP.
We did not do anything wrong, we just need to better prepare our students for success with Common Core Standards, critical reading and writing and 21st century skills that can be demonstrated on the CAASPP. Our CSI status this year was for our graduation rate. This means that our percentage of seniors that graduated was under 67% averaged over the last two years. Although we must ensure that our seniors graduate within the year that they matriculate, we must also consider our approach to teaching and learning to ensure that we do not fall into this status with the other indicators that are used under the ESSA act listed above.
Q: We need a 92% graduation rate by August, 2019 and we’re pulling out all the stops to achieve it. But isn’t a 92% graduation rate is a great achievement even for a traditional, wealthy suburban school that doesn’t face half the challenges that our organization does? Is it really fair that we should be held to this standard, and is it really possible that we can get there?
LH: The standard for graduation rate is 67% over two years, the reason we have such a high target is because we didn’t meet our goal for the past two years. Annually, we should expect to graduate at least 70% of our students in the graduation cohort.
Q: Obviously being labeled an underperforming school isn’t good for many reasons, but what are the consequences of not getting out of CSI status next year? What real-world effects might it have on teachers, students and staff?
LH: Five Keys has a unique model and a lot of our support has been to provide as much flexibility as possible to our students to access education. Unfortunately, it will be necessary to make changes to some of our current practices, to ensure that we retain students who are in 11th and 12th grade. If we do not exit CSI next year, we will be reclassified as ATSI - Additional Targeted Support and Intervention. This would require a more intensive review of our current practices and plan for improvement.
Q: Is this something we can expect to deal with as an organization in the future as well?
LH: We will begin addressing our gaps and model this year and throughout the summer. We currently are conducting needs assessments which includes reviewing our assessment data for patterns ( TABE, CASAS, GED pass rate, attendance, teacher and leader practice and other forms of data). This data will be used to determine next steps to address the gap in our graduation rate.
An important thing to consider is that we are noticing gaps in these areas in our other schools and so we are working now to determine our academic goals for the 2019-2020 school year.
We will continue to be responsible for these performance indicators for the next few years unless legislation changes at the state and federal level.
Q: Who is on the CSI team? Can we reach out to these folks if we have additional questions?
LH: The CSI team is comprised of leadership and Academic Committee members. Although this team is ensuring that the needs assessment is being conducted and the data disaggregated, addressing the CSI status will be an organizational wide endeavor. We will share out the plan at our fall PD. In the meantime, teachers have already supported this process by paying close attention to our 12th grade cohort to ensure they meet the criteria. The next step is to ensure that all students are prepared to perform on our CAASPP next year and meet the college/career indicator.