Structure and Methods

Structure of this Case Study

This case study begins with a brief history of reform in SDUSD, acknowledging the significance of district finances in implementing a strategic vision for children and families in the era of LCFF and the tenure of Superintendent Marten. The report then describes how SDUSD has focused on a clear set of priorities, analyzing the implementation of the district’s strategic plan (Vision 2020) and LCFF. Those priorities include: 1) reimagining how the central office supports school sites; 2) improving collaboration across the district; 3) empowering principals and educators to lead detracking efforts; and 4) the pursuit of strategies to improve student access (e.g., changes to master schedules and reclassification processes). The impact of district reforms on student learning and access under LCFF are also reported. Ongoing challenges for the district are summarized to conclude the case study, with insights into how SDUSD’s efforts can help inform other districts to support low-income students of color and second-language learners.


San Diego Unified School District was identified by several professional organizations and agencies as a district we should consider for this study. The district’s size and geographic diversity were taken into account in selecting SDUSD. Our purpose in conducting this case study was to highlight compelling district efforts to operationalize equity under LCFF as a way to inform practices and policies throughout the state.

The research team reviewed a variety of district-produced documents including the district’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), its strategic plan, its budget, student outcome data and pre-visit survey data. The research team then conducted a two-day site visit to the district and SDUSD school sites. We interviewed a total of 34 stakeholders based on the recommendations of central office staff, including students, teachers, principals, district officials, union representatives, school board trustees and community members. The research team transcribed and analyzed all interviews and notes and produced a case study focused on a particular set of themes for the district related to positive student outcomes for SDUSD.

Summary of Interviewees

Education Stakeholders Totals
Students 3
Teachers 3
Principals/Site Administrators 6
Local Area Superintendents 6
Community Organizations 1
Labor Partners 1
Central Office Staff 13
School Board 1