SACRAMENTO CITY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

Background

CCEE received a request for assistance in July of 2019 by the Sacramento County Office of Education and Sacramento City Unified School District pursuant to Education Code 52074(g)(1)(A), which allows for referrals to be made to CCEE for support by the local county superintendent of schools. Sacramento City USD was also referred to CCEE for assistance in 2019 after the 2018-19 California School Dashboard results showed the district failed to meet priority outcomes for a third year in a row. This year marked the third year for the CA Dashboard, which enacted Education Code subdivision (g) of Section 52064.5 (CA School Dashboard) automatically referring the district to CCEE when three or more pupil groups are identified pursuant to Section 52052, in three out of four consecutive school years. The student groups for SCUSD identified are Foster Youth, students experiencing homelessness and students with disabilities. The table below indicates the student groups performance in comparison to the average statewide performance for that student group (the most recent year data are available).

SCUSD 2019 CAASPP DATA_Page_4

The graphic below shows the enrollment percentage of these student groups relative to the district’s entire student population.

CCEE_Report_Graphics_Sacramento

Sacramento City USD serves a diverse student population, with Hispanic students representing the largest portion of the student population, followed by Asian, White and African American students, as reported on the CA Dashboard.

sacramento_race_ethnicity_2020

Systemic Instructional Review Themes

The Sacramento City USD SIR report and SCUSD SIR report executive summary were released to the school district and county and posted on the CCEE website on January 12, 2021. Six distinct themes emerged in the SCUSD SIR report along with 79 recommended actions: 1) central office leadership, organization, and systems, 2) assessment and accountability, 3) communication and engagement, 4) instructional practice and strategies, 5) professional learning, development, and support, and 6) continuous improvement and data use.

Progress Update

SCUSD SIR Action Implementation Status

Prior to the formal SIR process, CCEE provided various resources and support to the district. Specifically, SCUSD and Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) requested that CCEE provide SCUSD with a professional expert that provided central office leadership with facilitated support. The support requested from the district was to restructure the office that oversees special education including the creation of new job descriptions for an Assistant Superintendent of Special Education and Innovation, administrators of teaching and learning (formerly coordinators of special education) and a Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) director. In addition, support requested was provided in accordance with the district’s request to develop a three-year implementation plan for Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) that was initiated in Spring 2019. The Distance Learning Plan that integrated Universal Design for Learning (UDL) was also reviewed and feedback provided in November 2020. On-going individualized support was provided to the Chief Academic Officer (CAO), who was new to their role in September 2019. Data and system reviews across the CAO office/ departments have provided a foundation upon which an instructional vision and framework can be built. PreCOVID school visits were regularly conducted with the CAO. 

The SCUSD SIR was largely conducted during the disruption to schools caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the CCEE professional expert continued to support the restructure of the office that oversees special education including the transition of the soon to be retired Director of Special Education. The professional expert who had been providing support to SCUSD was a part of the team that conducted the SIR.

Since the delivery of the SIR report in January 2021 the CCEE met with SCUSD leadership on four different meeting dates to provide guidance and feedback on identifying, prioritizing and developing an implementation plan for integrating district and SIR priorities. CCEE conducted the first progress monitoring quarterly update of SCUSD in early June 2021 where the SCUSD team shared a plan to align the SIR actions to the 2021-22 LCAP. SCUSD also provided a timeline of when they will provide CCEE with a SIR implementation plan for feedback. SCUSD reviewed how the newly revised office that oversees special education organizational structure, that has developed Key Performance Indicators for the office of student support services and created targeted efforts to strengthen the development, implementation, and monitoring of the Single Plan for Student Achievement (SPSA) have all intended to pave the way for increased focus on the SIR recommended actions. Additionally, a strength for SCUSD is in the various data systems available in the district that could be built upon and utilized to improve student outcomes for students. All of these lend themselves to move systemic and organizational processes forward in the 21-22 school year. 

The identified weaknesses for this cycle of implementation, from March to June 2021, largely result from a lack of evidence submitted across each SIR domain that demonstrate development, implementation or monitoring of effective instructional practices identified in the SIR recommended actions. The evidence provided did not address key areas such as central office leadership, organizations and systems, and items therein (e.g., key next steps for the development of the roadmap, the identification of a cross-functional team to support implementation).  

Identified threats to the SCUSD SIR recommended action implementation, therefore, revolve around the lack of an organized approach to instructional improvement efforts and a lack of a clear instructional vision with aligned, accountable and clearly articulated expectations. The district also lacks the structures/ metrics for integrating current efforts across the district, including MTSS and SPSAs are a threat to improving student outcomes in SCUSD. While there was evidence submitted for the district’s theory of action, evidence is lacking that would indicate it lives across the central office department and current efforts underway. These continue to be a threat to systemically organizing all central office leadership in a manner that intentionally facilitates the implementation of the theory of action. For example, the lack of operationalized written processes for the expectation and use of available data, protocols, including accountability reports aligned to district goals and benchmarks for teaching and learning, is a threat to the operationalization of the district’s theory of actions and improving student outcomes.  

SCUSD has many opportunities to develop and implement written uniform expectations and support to build the capacity of district and school leaders to use data to drive decision making. This includes but is not limited to processes and protocols for the use of data and regularly scheduled reviews of data to monitor implementation of the SIR, LCAP and SPSAs. Tied to this is the opportunity to address data governance priorities by increasing the district and site leadership’s skill, capacity and data expertise. CCEE remains prepared to build from these opportunities and assist the district in being able to prioritize SIR priorities based on their LCAP and instructional strategic efforts but believe the fundamental threats to progress must first be addressed. 

Next Steps

The CCEE shared concerns on the lack of evidence provided for the implementation of SIR actions and the need to continue developing a plan of action for the execution of district instructional improvement strategies and theory of action. To aid this work, CCEE reinforced the SIR action recommendation that SCUSD establish a cross-functional team to comprehensively address the district’s instructional priorities, including the LCAP and Differentiated Assistance process, and actions aligned with district priorities. Furthermore, CCEE reiterated the role of the key actions within the SIR to develop an instructional roadmap that clearly communicates the vision, strategies, tools, and practices, with clear expectations and accountability for implementation. The roadmap should include how cycles of improvement will be utilized for professional learning for school site leadership and central office to increase their knowledge and skills on data-based decision making to monitor continuous improvement at the district, school and classroom levels. These data are critical to the district’s progress toward improving student outcomes, including students with disabilities, homeless and foster youth, and accountability for teaching and learning. CCEE remains committed to assisting the district with additional supports that are aligned to the district’s instructional priorities and SIR actions. CCEE will continue to follow up with the district based on the presented timelines to help deepen district engagement in SIR recommended action implementation.