This letter to the editor is in response to Is California’s investment in needy students paying off? Few signs yet that achievement gap is closing

CALmatters reporter Jessica Calefati relies on faulty research, narrow metrics and insufficient data to make sweeping generalizations and unsubstantiated conclusions about the effectiveness of California’s landmark Local Control Funding Formula.

Calefati’s story ignores or glosses over evidence in pursuit of a flawed narrative based on a handful of California’s 1,000-plus school districts. The fact is test scores are rising for all California student groups — including low-income students, English learners and foster youth. Plus, the state’s suspension rate is at an historic low and the graduation rate is the highest it’s ever been.

California is improving outcomes for students with new rigorous learning standards and new online tests that challenge students to think rather than bubble in their best guesses. Drawing hard and fast conclusions about these changes from just two years of data, as Calefati does, is reckless and rash. Experts say the same.

We know that these sort of disclaimers aren’t click bait, but context matters.

The Local Control Funding Formula has provided badly needed extra resources for school districts that serve students who need additional help. More important, the Local Control Funding Formula has put spending decisions in the hands of local school districts. The alternative — returning to a Sacramento-driven system of mandated compliance — won’t direct more money to students who need it most.

California will not return to the past.

— Michael W. Kirst, President of the California Board of Education

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