For California districts struggling to engage in an effective process for developing their LCAP, there are 58 California high schools that can serve as models: the Safe and Supportive Schools (S3) grantees. In many respects, the goals of the S3 project align with the priorities of LCAP: engaging stakeholders in a process of using data to guide development of action plans to improve learning conditions, engagement, and performance.
Selected by the California Department of Education to receive these grants because of the poor school climates, S3 high schools have worked over the past two years to build their capacity to implement this action-planning process developed by WestEd, called School Climate by Design. The process begins with a thorough needs assessment using data from the California School Climate, Health, and Learning Surveys (Cal-SCHLS) and other sources, including a Student Listening Circle to incorporate student voice, to identify their school’s strengths and needs. Stakeholder school climate teams (including teachers, administrators, students, and parents) then develop specific action plans to address the identified needs, incorporating evidence-based practices, programs, and strategies that meet their goals and objectives.
This School Climate by Design process is a model for how to develop an effective LCAP, particularly as the content of the Cal-SCHLS surveys and the goals of S3 align so well with the state priorities required to be addressed by the LCAP. It is also a means to help identify local priorities that should be addressed.
Even more important, S3 administrators and coordinators have the knowledge districts need about what works to improve school climate; foster student, staff, and parent engagement; support their high-need students; and promote the acquisition of social-emotional competencies that students need to succeed in school, including meeting the Common Core State Standards—all priorities of LCAP.
The model is bearing fruit. After two years of program implementation, the majority of S3 schools have improved not only their climate, as measured by a School Climate Index (SCI), but also student academic achievement, as measured by the state’s Academic Performance Index (API). The average SCI increased 12% (30 points), from 254 to 284, rising from the 10th to the 49th percentile. The average API increased 15 points. To learn more about these improvements and why they occurred, read these Success Stories.
Now is the time for S3 grantees to get involved in their district’s LCAP planning process, so it can be informed by their expertise. Other districts can identify a neighboring S3 school from the Cal-S3 website (CaliforniaS3.wested.org). The website also contains resources to help in LCAP planning and development, including a guidebook on using Cal-SCHLS data to improve school climate and a series of What Works Briefs that align with the major domains of school climate and LCAP priorities. For more information about the School Climate by Design process, email firstname.lastname@example.org.