Appendix A: More on the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF)
Under LCFF, the state now directs dollars to districts based on the proportion of the high-needs students served. It also requires districts to determine funding priorities based on the input of a broad base of education stakeholders.
Since 2013, California has made the pursuit of equity an explicit goal of education policy. LCFF directs targeted state funds to districts that serve a disproportionate share of the most disadvantaged students (Affeldt, 2015). In keeping with the aim of the policy, local actors (i.e., school districts) are charged with the responsibility of determining how best to utilize resources.
LCFF replaces the previous K–12 finance system, which relied upon an array of categorical funding streams to provide districts with targeted revenue designated for high-needs students. Under the new law, districts are required to prioritize resources for disadvantaged students: those eligible for free or reduced-price meals (FRPM), foster youth, homeless youth, and English Learners (EL) (Hill & Ugo, 2015).
They also have greater flexibility in determining how supplemental funds are spent. LCFF charges county offices of education (COEs) with oversight responsibility for reviewing and approving district spending plans, referred to as Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs). Districts are required to explain how their LCAPs will utilize LCFF resources to generate progress on a number of academic and whole-school performance indicators (e.g., student attendance and student suspensions).
A recent study shows that LCFF has resulted in a six percent increase in graduation rates for low-income students (Johnson & Tanner, 2018). Such a development is a promising result for an ambitious new statewide policy initiative still in its infancy. However, there is also evidence that some districts are struggling to set clear priorities (Fuller & Tobben, 2014) and to demonstrate that with additional funding for high-needs students clear, measurable progress can be achieved.