More than 50 schools in the Sacramento region landed on the California Department of Education’s list of the state’s 781 poorest performing schools – published quietly last week for the first time in four years.
States have to report the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools under federal law so that they can receive additional aid. But since the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act was replaced in 2015, local districts have a lot more control over how they use those funds to remedy low performance.
Parents are no longer notified that their school made the list, and under the 2015 federal Every Student Succeeds Act, parents cannot request to transfer their children, according to California Education Department spokesman Scott Roark.
Sacramento County is home to 44 of the schools listed, according to the data. The list also showed seven in Placer County, five in Yolo County and one in El Dorado County.
The lowest performing schools are required to receive Title I federal aid, which goes to schools with low-income students under federal education law. Each school is given $160,000 per year, according to the state Education Department.
Unlike in past years, when parents would receive notification of low-performing schools and could make transfer decisions based on that information, state officials said the focus now is on school improvement.
“This list is meant to help districts identify which schools need help,” Roark said. “It’s the first step in getting resources to these schools.”
The federal Every Student Succeeds Act narrowed the federal government’s involvement in schools and districts. It became up to the state and the local school districts to determine performance standards.
Without the No Child Left Behind Act, states determine the consequences and solutions for the low-performing schools. Districts are given minimal directions on how to improve them.
The Every Student Succeeds Act still requires that states set performance goals for the schools at the bottom of the lowest-performing list. But the law requires states to measure schools by more than just test scores.
Many of the schools listed were in high-poverty neighborhoods, but the state identifies schools using the California School Dashboard. It considers a number of factors to determine whether a school makes the list, including suspension rates, chronic absenteeism and college and career readiness for the 11th grade.
“Twin Rivers is investing resources into our schools to continue the growth that we’ve seen in the last several years,” said Twin Rivers Unified School District spokeswoman Zenobia Gerald. The district has 13 schools on the list. “These additional resources will ensure that the schools identified will be exceeding their peers in the near future.”
High schools may not be identified as Title I schools, but made the list because they have a graduation rate below 67 percent.
The list included 17 high schools in Sacramento County, all of which are continuation, alternative or charter schools.
About 80 percent of schools identified are already receiving state support. The federal Every Student Succeeds Act allocates additional money to schools across the nation that need it. The money is divided between the number of schools, and more schools could translate to less money for each school.