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Linked Learning Alliance Applauds Historic Investment in California Education

July 14, 2021 | Linked Learning Alliance

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the long-awaited K-12 education trailer bill on July 9, 2021. The 2021-22 budget includes historic funding levels focused on getting students back into the classroom and ensuring those disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic get the support they need to promote their overall well-being and academic success.

The bill (AB 130) works in conjunction with AB 128 (Ting) and SB 129 (Skinner) to appropriate Proposition 98 funding, among other funds, for various education programs. Several of these investments build on and strengthen the work of the Linked Learning field and our aspirations to engage young people in relevant, real-world experiences through pathways that integrate rigorous academics, career technical education, work-based learning, and student supports.

The lessons and insights from over a decade of success in the Linked Learning field contributed to the historic budget, which includes significant boosts to CTEIG funding for high-quality college and career preparation, a greater emphasis on integrated, community-based approaches to support student's social and emotional well-being, and increased funding to improve A-G completion rates, paving the way for postsecondary attainment, and ultimately a rewarding career.

Below you can find detailed information on a few of the programs that are most relevant to the Linked Learning field:

Budget Boosts Funding for the Career Technical Education Incentive Grant (CTEIG)

The budget deal significantly boosts the CTEIG program, a major source of state funding for Linked Learning. The budget doubles the funding from $150 million to $300 million and emphasizes the combination of college and career learning. Research shows that combining college AND career preparation puts every student in a position to pursue the full range of postsecondary options. That's the power of plus—and at the core of CTEIG funding.

The new language changes the minimum eligibility standards for CTEIG, specifying that eligible education programs must enable students to transition to postsecondary education programs that lead to a career pathway or allow students to attain employment or industry certification upon high school graduation. This includes programs that integrate academic and career technical education and offer participants the opportunity to prepare for postsecondary enrollment and earn postsecondary credits through Advanced Placement courses, International Baccalaureate courses, or by formal agreement with a postsecondary partner to provide dual enrollment opportunities. Eligible programs are also expanded to those that provide students with quality career exploration, guidance, and a continuum of work-based learning opportunities aligned with academic coursework, including paid internships, and supporting students' social, emotional, academic, and career needs.

Notably, the new CTEIG language clarifies that professional development opportunities can be provided to teachers or faculty members supporting students in those programs, including core academic educators and CTE teachers. It also allows for smaller grants to be awarded if applicants are unable to match the grant award amount they are eligible to receive.

Although not an eligibility requirement, the new language encourages grant recipients to use funds to create high school programs that provide career-themed coursework with articulated pathways to postsecondary education, including programs established through a College and Career Access Pathways (CCAP) partnership agreement, and that lead to high demand careers in the state. In addition, favorable consideration will be given to applicants that offer an existing high-quality regional-based CTE program as a joint powers agency or county office of education or engage in regional collaboration, including programs provided under an adopted CCAP partnership agreement.

The language also adds some transparency measures to the grant allocation process that include:

  • Requiring the California Department of Education (CDE) to work in consultation with the executive director of the State Board of Education (SBE) when determining both new and renewal grant recipients, reporting requirements, and eligibility metrics.
  • Requiring CDE to make public on a preliminary basis at least 30 days prior to the SBE meeting where the grants are up for review and approval, the allocation formula, funding amounts, the purposes for which the grant funds may be used, allowable and nonallowable expenditures, and the number of grants to be awarded for both new and renewal grant recipients.
  • Providing the final CTEIG grant approvals to the Legislature, the Department of Finance (DOF), and the Governor within 30 days following the final approval by SBE.
  • Expanded auditing requirements to ensure the appropriate use of the grants.
  • Before awarding the grants for 2021-22, and annually thereafter, requiring CDE to submit an updated report to the Legislature, Department of Finance (DOF), and the Governor detailing the process they will use to determine and verify that an applicant meets the minimum eligibility standards of the program.
  • Professional development opportunities to teachers, administrators, and counselors to improve the LEA's A-G completion rate.
  • Developing comprehensive advising plans and student supports, including tutoring programs
  • Expanding access to coursework to satisfy A-G course requirements to all students.
  • Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate fees for unduplicated students.

At this point, it is unclear how these changes may impact the current CTEIG 2021-22 Request for Application (RFA), given the increased funding and the changes to the minimum eligibility requirements, but we should know more soon. We will continue to keep the Linked Learning field updated as new information becomes available.

Budget Focuses on A-G Expansion and Support

To ensure rigorous, high-quality academic experiences for all young people, students in certified Linked Learning pathways must meet all the requirements to qualify for entry to public universities in the state. In California, this includes meeting the A-G requirements. The budget appropriates $547.5 million to provide additional supports to local educational agencies (LEAs) to increase the number of students - particularly English learners, low-income students, and foster youth - who graduate having fulfilled the A-G requirements. The funds are provided within three grants:

A-G Access Grant: $300 million is allocated on a per-pupil basis to each LEA identified as having an overall A-G completion rate of less than 67 percent, based on the LEA's number of unduplicated students in grades 9-12 for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

A-G Success Grant: $100 million allocated on a per-pupil basis to each LEA identified as having an overall A-G completion rate of 67 percent or higher, based on the LEA's number of unduplicated 9-12 grade students. LEAs are encouraged to direct the funds for the A-G Success Grant to students in danger of not achieving a "C" or better in A-G courses.

A-G Learning Loss Mitigation Grant: $147.5 million to be allocated on a per-pupil basis to each LEA, based on the LEA's number of unduplicated 9-12 grade students. Funds first must be used to allow students who receive a "D," "F," or "Fail" grade in an A-G course in the spring semester of 2020 or the 2020-21 school year to retake those courses. Then, if funds are remaining, an LEA may use them to offer credit recovery opportunities to all students to ensure they can graduate high school on time.

The A-G Access and A-G Success Grants must be used for activities that directly support student access to, and successful completion of, the A-G course requirements, including:

An LEA must develop a plan by January 1, 2022, on how the funds will increase or improve services for unduplicated students to improve A-G eligibility, including how they supplement and don't supplant services identified in the LEA's LCAP and learning recovery plan.

Grant recipients must report to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction on or before December 31, 2023, on how they measure the impact of the funds on their A-G completion rate.

Budget Prioritizes Student Supports

Community schools and Linked Learning serve as complementary, reinforcing approachesthat provide students with holistic, comprehensive student supports and have the common goal of connecting students to life-long learning and success. In addition, community schools integrate services that support students and their families, including healthcare and mental health services, before and after school enrichment programs, and other community partnerships. This year's budget provides a one-time $3 billion investment to support the existing Community School Partnership Program. This funding will help establish or expand existing community schools supported by local educational agencies that help coordinate services and manage learning networks for these schools through start-up, implementation, and coordination grants.

Linked Learning provides a framework by which to deliver on the community schools model in high schools, as educators explore strategies to re-engage young people. Through this historic budget agreement, schools will have the opportunity to bring these two approaches together to strengthen the high school experience and generate positive student outcomes. Qualifying grant recipients include districts or schools meeting specific criteria, county behavioral health agencies, Head Start/Early Head Start programs, or childcare programs within a public institution of higher learning.

Now more than ever, we must invest in California's young people. The Linked Learning Alliance applauds the final state budget and looks forward to working with lawmakers to build on the progress and continue to provide young people with the rigorous and relevant educational experiences that keep them connected to purpose and their dreams for both college and career.