CDE provides additional answers to questions about new Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan

The 2020–21 school year’s Local Control and Accountability Plan has been replaced by the Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan, as outlined in Senate Bill 98, the education funding trailer bill. The California Department of Education is holding a series of webinars to guide local educational agencies through the document. An Aug. 4 webinar outlined how to appropriately fill out various parts of the Learning continuity plan document. Upcoming CDE webinars in support of the Learning continuity plan can be found here, and a template and support documents are now available.

Measuring student progress and calculating attendance in distance learning settings

One of the most common questions among LEAs since schools closed in the spring and districts transitioned to distance learning is how to measure attendance. Or, more specifically, what constitutes ‘attendance.’

CDE education programs consultant Heather Bell said LEAs will need to provide specific information about how student progress will be tracked and monitored through live contacts and synchronous instructional minutes, as well as a description of how the LEA will measure participation and time value of student work.

“For the purposes of this prompt, instruction time for distance learning is calculated based on the time value of synchronous and/or asynchronous assignment made and certified by a certificated employee of the LEA,” Bell said. CDE staff pointed attendees with additional questions to the new 2020–21 Funding and Instructional Time FAQs.

There are different methods districts may employ in measuring progress and attendance. Policy Analysis for California Education and Attendance Works have provided a breakdown of various metrics that LEAs can use in the coming year.

The Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan only needs to be submitted for county approval one time. When asked if LEAs would be required to revise and re-adopt the learning plan should students transition back to in-person learning, CDE staff said there were no requirements under SB 98 dictating such action.

That said, however, LEAs are encouraged to consult with their stakeholders and repost an updated version of the plan should instructional models change significantly.

Distance learning, additional student supports, and the role and responsibilities of staff

As part of the document, LEAs will need to provide descriptions of the new roles and responsibilities of staff as a result of COVID-19. It is important that districts explain modifications made to staff roles and responsibilities to meet, among other things, the academic and social-emotional needs of students while ensuring the health and safety of staff and students.

A description of the additional supports the LEA will provide during distance learning to assist pupils with unique needs, including English learners, pupils with exceptional needs served across the full continuum of placements, pupils in foster care, and pupils who are experiencing homelessness, is also required. CDE staff noted that there must be descriptions of what additional services and supports will be provided to all students with unique needs, and what will be provided to the specific student groups listed above.

Key among the differences between this document and the original Local Control and Accountability Plan is the obligation for LEAs to provide a description of how continuity of instruction will be provided during the school year to ensure students have access to a full curriculum of substantially similar quality regardless of whether they are learning virtually, in person or through a combination of the two.

The intent is that, regardless of the mode of the delivery, the students receive the same quality of education and access to the same curriculum and resources, Bell said. It’s important to note that the requirement is not just for LEAs to develop new resources. Districts will want to provide a description of services and resources that will be used, meaning LEAs should also list existing services, not just those that will be newly developed.