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Two California Districts Use LCFF to Better Serve English Learners

Dr. Eduardo R. Muñoz-Muñoz, PACE & Pivot Learning January 21, 2020
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English Language Learners and the Local Control Funding Formula: Implementation Challenges and Successes from Two District Cases

When then-Governor Jerry Brown signed the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) into law in 2013, California’s leaders were hopeful that this legislation would set high expectations for flexibility, transparency, and equity within school districts. In a new report, “English Language Learners and the Local Control Funding Formula: Implementation Challenges and Successes from Two District Cases,” released in partnership by Pivot Learning and Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), Dr. Eduardo Muñoz-Muñoz investigates how two California districts have been able to use the flexibility of the LCFF to serve students who are classified as English Language Learners (ELLs).

Both districts—Los Banos Unified School District in the Central Valley and Chino Valley Unified School District in the Inland Empire—showcase instances in which ELLs are benefitting from locally devised mechanisms and structures aimed at improving their education.

Los Banos Unified School District, located in Merced County, serves 11,075 students, with 3,200 designated as ELLs.[1] In Los Banos, the LCFF has allowed for the creation of dialogue and advocacy spaces that did not exist before.

  • In its Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), Los Banos vows to provide additional professional development and assessment to track progress for ELLs. Nine specific actions in the LCAP impact ELLs directly, with five targeting them specifically.
  • The district set goals with regards to the involvement of ELL parents in the DELAC— likely contributing to an attendance rate increase of 16 percent in the 2018–19 school year.
  • A new, LCAP-funded position, ELL Coordinator, has led not only to compliance in ELL services but also to a renewed sense of community.
  • Both the LCAP and the ELL Master Plan are part of a coordinated process to advance the cause for equity in the district.
  • Moving forward, Chief Academic Officer, a new position starting in the 2019–20 school year, will increase instructional and ELL data-driven awareness among district leadership.

Chino Valley Unified School District, located in San Bernardino County, serves approximately 28,000 students, with 3,140 students designated as ELLs.[2] In Chino Valley, the plasticity of governance structures has allowed for the development of internal coherence. 

  • Chino Valley lists 59 actions in its LCAP that address ELL needs, though only four are exclusively targeted to support ELLs, including professional development, Designated English Language Development instruction, and the position of Access and Equity Coordinator.
  • Administrators are coordinating site plans and the LCAP, in order to move toward evidence-based action and greater interdepartmental collaboration.
  • The district has sought greater family involvement in LCAP development, including training site leaders.
  • The district is monitoring data, and identifiable intervention specialists and coaches support ELLs.
  • Chino Valley has implemented the Seal of Biliteracy and within two years is planning to open a Dual Language Immersion (DLI) program—both advocated by families of ELLs.

Overall, stakeholder engagement has increased in both districts through the LCAP process. Additionally, several key levers have an important impact on whether and how ELLs are supported by district LCAPs, including meaningful stakeholder engagement and advocates on the ground.

  • In both districts, the appointment of leaders in charge of ELL services has had a direct impact on the quantity and quality of services provided to ELLs and their families through LCFF funds.
  • LCAP stakeholder engagement is critical for delivering the promise of the LCFF, and LCAPs promote equity initiatives but can take a pace slower than that of educational reformers.
  • Equity and meaningful stakeholder engagement call for explicit connections between LCAP funds and ELLs.

The LCFF process has brought both districts closer to realizing a growth vision well aligned with the ELL Roadmap framework, research, and the expectations of ELL advocates.

About the Author
Dr. Eduardo R. Muñoz-Muñoz is an Assistant Professor and the Bilingual Program Coordinator at the Lurie College of Education at San José State University, California. In his research, teaching, and practice, he engages with issues of linguistic access and educational opportunities from a policy ethnography stance. He regularly supports and advises districts and dual immersion programs on design and implementation issues pertaining to multilingualism.

About Pivot Learning
Founded in 1995, Pivot Learning is a nonprofit organization of K-12 education experts who work directly with districts to address their biggest challenges, including raising student achievement and closing unconscionably large achievement gaps. Pivot’s mission is to partner with educators to design and implement solutions to their greatest challenges in achieving educational justice. Pivot envisions a future where our public schools provide our most underserved students with an outstanding education.

About Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE)
PACE is an independent, non-partisan research center led by faculty directors at Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the University of California Davis, the University of California Los Angeles, and the University of California Berkeley. PACE bridges the gap between research, policy, and practice, working with scholars from California’s leading universities and with state and local decision-makers to achieve improvement in performance and more equitable outcomes at all levels of California’s education system, from early childhood to postsecondary education and training.


[1] Select ‘district’ for level and ‘enrollment’ for subject on the California Department of Education website (https://data1.cde.ca.gov/dataquest). Select year 2018–19.
[2] Select ‘district’ for level and ‘enrollment’ for subject on the California Department of Education website (https://data1.cde.ca.gov/dataquest). Select year 2018–19.

“ the effective intervention and support of local committed educators is crucial for bridging the gap between bureaucratic and centralizing inertia and the democratic and equitable spirit of the LCFF. ”

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This report was published in partnership with Policy Analysis for California Education. Read this report on PACE’s website.

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