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In This Moment (4/9): Policy Updates in a Changing World

April 9, 2020

Linked Learning educators are working incredibly hard to provide high-quality learning experiences for students in these unprecedented times. We know that many are exploring how to navigate budget dynamics, handle instruction and assessment, and provide family and student supports to ensure Linked Learning can still thrive as COVID-19 realities persist. To further support pathway success in the months ahead, the Linked Learning Alliance will provide weekly updates and insights on timely policy issues that are relevant to the Linked Learning community.

Uncertainty with Some Steady Commitments in California State Budgeting

Amid the unfolding pandemic crisis, it is unclear how government officials will proceed with the budgeting process, but here is what we know: Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Legislature have both been clear that the budget this year will be a “workload budget,” which is the budget year cost of currently authorized services, adjusted for enrollment or other factors. The legislature is currently scheduled to return to Sacramento on May 4 to begin working on the budget, although it will be doing so with limited information, as both state and federal income tax filing dates were pushed from April 15 to July 15. Legislators will also have less money and less time to adopt a balanced budget. While the process remains unclear, the governor still expects to issue the May revision, and it is very likely a budget will be adopted by the June 15 deadline, with the intent to come back in August to make necessary adjustments once revenues become available.

For the current year, schools should receive the core funding levels they have budgeted, based on SB 117, the governor’s executive orders regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act, and obligations to pay employees and contractors. However, it is important to anticipate coming fiscal challenges and exercise caution. At the very least, local education agencies (LEAs) should not expect any increases in funding in the coming year.

Adjustments to California Grading, Graduation, and College Admission Requirements

Of interest to Linked Learning staff providing remote learning to their students and to Linked Learning counselors, the California Department of Education (CDE) released guidance on grading and graduation requirements for students affected by school closures due to COVID-19. The guidance includes information on grading work through distance learning and alternative grading systems. Specific to the state’s minimum graduation requirements, the guidance indicates that LEAs are expected to “enable students to complete state graduation requirements with needed flexibilities associated with the nature of assignments and mode of grading during any period of school closure.” However, the CDE also notes that an LEA may request a waiver of the state graduation requirements for specific students from the State Board of Education.

In addition, the CDE also posted guidance from the University of California, the California State University, and the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities. These documents describe impacts on college admissions and financial aid policies; a joint letter from the K–12 and Higher Education systems is also available on this page.

Perkins Funding Extensions

Federal Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that the United States Department of Education (USDOE) has extended the deadline for states to submit their Perkins V State Plan, from April 15 to June 30, 2020. States unable to meet the new deadline may receive an extension to September 30, 2020. Even with the deadline changes, the first installment of FY 2020 Perkins funds would still be released according to schedule on July 1, 2020—including to states that have not yet received formal federal approval of their plan. The California State Board of Education approved the state’s plan at its March 2020 board meeting; the plan now awaits the Governor’s review and approval. This extension would give Governor Newsom more time to review the plan as he handles the current COVID-19 emergency.

Updates on the Cradle to Career (C2C) Data System

The Cradle to Career (C2C) Data System is officially underway. Administered by WestEd, the project is important to Linked Learning as we aim to create more seamless learning experiences across systems for California’s young people. C2C will connect P–20 data from childcare, early education, K–12 education, financial aid, higher education, workforce, and health and human services.

The Alliance will be an active thought partner in this venture to enhance California’s data infrastructure; our Vice President of Strategy and Impact Roneeta Guha is serving on the C2C Practice and Operations Advisory Group. As she provides project leadership, Roneeta will also be sharing insight from the Linked Learning field.

We encourage you to learn more about the project and its workgroup—and to strengthen it with your perspectives and suggestions. Demonstrations are provided in regular webinars, and you can offer ideas using this public comment form until April 28, 2020. Recommendations for the C2C plan are scheduled to go to the Department of Finance and Legislature by January 1, 2021.

Distance Learning Newsletter for Parents, in English and Spanish

If you’re looking for a way to communicate about distance learning with English- or Spanish-speaking parents, you may want to check out the parent newsletter in English and parent newsletter in Spanish recently added to the California Department of Education’s COVID-19 webpage. The CDE will post this information in additional languages as soon as translations become available. You may also find helpful information in the Multilingual Resources section of the CDC’s Resources that Support Distance Learning webpage.

California Department of Education Webinars

The California Department of Education is offering the following webinars to support distance learning and students: