Among the education bills signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom this year was Assembly Bill 599. Authored by Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), this new law updates the criteria used to identify schools for annual inspection by a county superintendent for purposes of the settlement in Eliezer Williams, et al., vs. State of California, et al., otherwise known as the Williams Case.
The suit, which alleged that the state of California and its education agencies failed to provide public school students with equal access to instructional materials, safe and decent school facilities and qualified teachers, was settled in 2004. A 2005 agreement between the parties included the requirement for annual inspection visits from the county superintendent ranked in deciles 1-3 of the now-defunct Academic Performance Index (API) in their counties to determine compliance with the new instructional materials and facilities standards and whether the schools’ School Accountability Report Cards (SARCs) accurately reported this data. In support of this, state law required:
- The State Superintendent of Public Schools (SPI) to identify schools ranked in deciles 1-3 of the API every three years.
- A county superintendent to report every three years to the county board of education and the board of supervisors on the schools in the API deciles 1-3, teacher misassignments and teacher vacancies.
- School district governing boards to receive quarterly reports from county superintendent visits to ranked schools on various criteria including sufficient textbooks, conditions of facilities and the accuracy of data reported in the SARC.
Need for new criteria
The API was repealed in 2018, and the last time the API was used to identify low-performing schools was in 2013. As Jones-Sawyer noted, “the same schools that were identified in 2013 are still being evaluated now, even though there has been much change in school performance over the last six years. There needs to be a new way of identifying the lowest-performing schools that are likely to have problems with these basic conditions.” To reflect this change, AB 599 updates the criteria used to identify schools and charter schools for the county superintendent’s inspection.
Under the new requirements, for the 2021–22 fiscal year the initial list of schools shall include all those identified for comprehensive or additional targeted support and improvement in the 2019–20 fiscal year pursuant to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The list shall include schools where 15 percent or more of teachers hold a permit or certificate that is a lesser certification than a preliminary or clear teaching credential. Moving forward, the SPI is required to update the list in 2022–23 and thereafter every three years for identified schools.
The new law also requires the county superintendent to annually report on the SPI’s list of identified schools and the state of the schools in the county to the school district governing board under the superintendent’s jurisdiction, the county board of education and the board of supervisors, at the regularly scheduled November board meeting.
For a comprehensive look at all the education bills passed this year, stay tuned for CSBA’s annual “What’s New for 2022” report, coming soon. Reach out to CSBA’s Governmental Relations teams at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions about AB 599 or any new education law.