Public Schools Get Funding to Bridge the Achievement Gap, By Dr. Rex Fortune

The California Department of Education (CDE) sent an “Official Letter” to County Superintendents of Schools on November 28, 2018 detailing new information regarding the Low-Performing Students Block Grant (LPSBG) for Fiscal Year 2018-19. The letter provided the link where the apportionment schedule is posted. The size of the apportionment that any school district, charter school or county office is scheduled to receive is tied to the number of eligible students they have who are not otherwise identified for supplemental grant funding under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) or eligible for special education services.

I reviewed those apportionments and found that there were 47 school districts, which will receive at least $1 million dollars for the school year 2018-19. I wrote to the school district superintendent of each of those districts and offered information that they might consider in the preparation and implementation of their plans to use their LPSBG for the year. The letter from CDE pointed out that Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) are required to report to the CDE by March 1, 2019 on the adopted plan to use the grant funds to increase the academic performance of the identified pupils, and by November 1, 2021 on the implementation of the plan, the strategies used, and whether those strategies increased the academic performance of the identified pupils.

My suggestions to superintendents were included in a folder with research-based resources that may help with the development of their plans to increase the academic performance of identified pupils. I referred them to editions of the book entitled, Bridging the Achievement Gap: What Successful Educators and Parents Do. I pointed out that research for the First Edition, published in 2012, was based upon Academic Performance Index (API) scores for schools described in that book. While the Second Edition, published in 2018, is based upon student performance on the California Assessment of Student Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). Both books feature discussions of what principals and teachers are doing to spark high student achievement among students who typically do not fare well on state tests.

My communication to superintendents also referred them to both print and media based materials we have found useful for parenting education. These materials are based upon testimonies gathered from parents during our research on high performing, high poverty and high minority schools. Parenting Trainings using these materials have been conducted for parents of elementary, middle and high school students. Evaluations of these training programs are posted at no charge on the website:

I am engaged in conversations with a few districts that received significant LPSBG allocations to determine if they find this communication helpful. I point out to them that there may be another legislative effort during 2019 to obtain some of the provisions of last year’s AB 2635 that we not achieved in the negotiations to get the LPSBG agreement. I further suggest that it would be helpful if LEAs and others can document successes that students experience as a result of this first LPSBG appropriation.

The Low-Performing Students Block Grant (LPSBG) for fiscal year 2018-19 was a surprise for everyone. Let’s assure that it matters!

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.