Partial credit for foster youth—a tool for LCFF success

By Andrea Ball, J.D., CSBA Legislative Advocate

The Local Control Funding Formula affirms the state’s commitment to provide additional resources to students with greater challenges, foster youth among them. Because students in the child welfare system often move from home to home and school to school, they frequently lose academic credits that can put them at risk of not graduating on time.

To address that, the California Child Welfare Council, a state advisory body responsible for improving collaboration of agencies that serve children in the child welfare system, met on September 4, 2013 and unanimously adopted the recommendations of its Workgroup on Partial Credit for standardizing the method for calculating partial academic credit for foster youth. State education code already requires schools to issue and accept partial credit for foster students who transfer, however, there is no consistent methodology. This voluntary policy on the calculation method can make a difference.

As earlier pieces in CSBA’s California Schools magazine and blog have described, CSBA has been part of this Workgroup formed to develop a model voluntary policy for foster youth who often transfer mid-year and often more than once. The model voluntary policy is available here.

You can hear directly from foster youth about the detrimental effect the lack of a consistent credit policy has on their educational paths in this short video from The Alliance for Children’s Rights.

A policy for a consistent calculation of partial credit is timelier than ever. Under the Local Control Funding Formula, districts, counties and charter schools are to develop goals and implement strategies to improve outcomes for foster youth in each of eight state priority areas. The more consistency there is in calculating partial credit for students who transfer schools and districts, the better opportunity there is for foster youth to complete high school and fulfill the preparation requirements for post-secondary education and career readiness.

This policy is voluntary but in our view it holds promise for ensuring that foster youth receive the credit earned when they transfer and we hope it will improve placement decisions so that students are consistently enrolled in appropriate courses at new schools. The policy also has the potential to bring consistency and help other highly mobile student populations, including migrant students and children of military families.

CSBA will continue efforts to build awareness and use of the partial credit policy. We are:

  • Reviewing and updating the existing model/sample policy that is available via GAMUT online
  • Highlighting the policy as part of our outreach and education on LCFF implementation
  • Spotlighting the policy at a session at CSBA’s Annual Education Conference and Trade Show on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 8:30 a.m.
  • Partnering with other organizations to host webinars and other training opportunities for school, district and county office staff to understand the policy

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