Dr. Rex Fortune (courtesy photo)

Serious steps that must be taken to close the achievement gap and improve educational outcomes for our lowest-performing students. In September 2018, California took a huge step forward in supporting thousands of students who are being left behind academically year after year. Thanks to new funding through the Low Performing Students Block Grant (LPSBG), our state’s lowest-performing students are set to receive an additional $2,000 in per-pupil educational funding. This critical new one-time funding, adapted from Assembly Bill (AB) 2635, will help close the achievement gap and increase funding for nearly 150,000 of the state’s lowest-performing students by driving additional resources to school districts, county offices of education, and charter public schools.

In November 2018, the California Department of Education (CDE) sent an official letter to County Superintendents of Schools detailing new information regarding the LPSBG, including how much funding school districts, charter schools or county offices are scheduled to receive based on the number of eligible students. Students are only eligible for LPSBG funding if they are not otherwise identified for supplemental grant funding under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) or eligible for special education services.

A total of 47 school districts across the state which will receive at least $1 million dollars for the school year 2018-19 as part of the LPSBG. By March 1, each of these districts (Local Educational Agencies or LEAs) are required to submit a plan for how they will use the grant funds to increase academic performance.  By November 1, 2021, the districts must submit a report detailing implementation of their plans, the strategies used, and whether those strategies successfully increased the academic performance of the identified pupils.

Significant research exists to help guide principals and school leaders in the development and implementation of the LPSBG. I encourage school leaders to consider how they will communicate and involve parents in their plans. For example, I’ve conducted trainings using research-based parent testimonials. Evaluations of these training programs are posted at no charge on the website: www.fortuneandassoicates.com. More information is available in my book entitled, Bridging the Achievement Gap: What Successful Educators and Parents Do.

LPSBG funding is a new opportunity for us to make deeper investments in the success of our most vulnerable students. And school leaders should be aware of the resources that exist to help ensure these funds help our neediest students. Successful implementation of this funding could pave the way for similar, and perhaps larger, investments in the future.

The Low-Performing Students Block Grant (LPSBG) is a big win for our students. Let’s make it count!

 Dr. Rex Fortune served as the Associate Superintendent of Public Instruction in the California Department of Education and superintendent of two California school districts. He founded Fortune School of Education (FSE), established a Master’s Degree in Education program for FSE graduates, and worked with his daughter, Margaret G. Fortune, who established a charter management organization. Dr. Fortune served as past chairman of the board of Fortune School of Education and as its director of research and evaluation. He also served as past president of the Pacific Charter Institute board. Fortune received his B.S. degree in biology and US Army Commission from A & T State University of North Carolina, his MA in educational administration from UC Berkeley and his PhD in educational administration from Stanford University. “Bridging the Achievement Gap: What Successful Educators and Parents Do Second Edition,” released in October 2018 is his fifth book in Education. All three of his children are college graduates. Fortune and his wife Margaret S. Fortune live in Granite Bay, California.