Since 2013, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) replaced state legislators with local educational agencies (LEAs), i.e., school districts, as the primary budgetary decision-making units for schools. To receive the annual funds, school districts (LEA) must write and publish a Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) each year, where the district administrators identify goals, actions, services, and predicted expenditures aligned with statewide education priorities to improve outcomes for all students. Throughout revisions to LCAP templates over the years, the documents have always required districts to explain how they will increase or improve services for higher-need student populations (i.e. English learners, low-income students, foster, and homeless youth), which we refer to as Section 3. Section 3 describes 1) how the school’s actions shape and address the needs of the higher-need student population and 2) how these services and supports are being increased or improved. To explore whether and how the budget, funding, and student enrollment and demographics determine the content of Section 3 relative to the actual student population and their needs, our lab collected LCAP data from the past eight academic years, spanning 2014-2015 to 2021-2022. Using R, we extract the text from the LCAPs and create a data frame that includes the text, school information, and demographic characteristics. In our analysis, we first examine top words and the text length, uniqueness, and complexity across the past eight years to examine shifts in LCAP content across time. We then analyze 1) if the content of the LCAPs is related to district demographics and 2) whether LCAPs are truly by and for their respective communities. Our preliminary analysis finds no evidence of a relationship between student demographics and LCAP length, uniqueness, complexity, and content. However, the data suggest a relationship between total enrollment and length, uniqueness, and complexity. In a regression analysis, we further explore the relationship between the student population and LCAPs to determine if, as preliminary analysis suggests, the content of LCAPs has more to do with enrollment (i.e. funding) than with addressing the needs of the student population.
Bio: Jee is a Ph.D. student in the department of sociology. She studies the sociology of education and stratification, with a focus on public education, policy, and neighborhood and community contexts. Jee is interested in examining cultural capital at meso-level with quantitative and computational methods.