Districts must show how they’re addressing learning gaps with new plan

This year, school districts won’t be expected to produce those long-range planning guides tied to budget projections, otherwise known as Local Control and Accountability Plans, or LCAPs.

Instead, they’ll be required to complete an accountability plan of a different kind, but with very similar initials.

Student working at computer

The Learning Continuity Plan — sometimes called the LCP, or Learning Continuity and Attendance Plan — was written into the latest state budget. The intent is to show how districts are responding to the impacts of COVID-19 on instruction and, most notably, how they’re offsetting potential learning losses.

Let’s take a closer look at seven key questions.

What is a Learning Continuity Plan?

Established through Senate Bill 98, the Learning Continuity Plan is a way for school districts to organize and communicate their planning processes under the very unique circumstances they’ll face this school year.

An overarching theme is how schools will address gaps in learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Educational leaders are expected to show how they’ll meet connectivity needs for distance learners, conduct meaningful stakeholder engagement, maintain transparency, and provide resources for mental health, school meals and other supports.

Why is this a requirement?

Last spring’s sudden closure of school campuses led to a patchwork of distance learning models and expectations across the state. That’s a concern, as experts caution that poor remote learning experiences — especially prolonged ones — can have lasting effects on student achievement.

Most schools in California are required to start the year with distance learning until their counties get off the state’s COVID-19 monitoring list, but the bar will be much higher this time around. This year’s budget calls for daily live interaction between teachers and students, as well as a minimum amount of instructional minutes and procedures for recording student attendance and participation.

In short, until in-person instruction can resume, each school district is expected to have a more robust system of distance learning in place with far greater daily student engagement, and the Learning Continuity Plan will document it.

Is there a Learning Continuation Plan template for districts to use?

California has developed a template with clear instructions on what should be included. But districts aren’t required to use the state’s template. They just need to be able to provide comprehensive responses to specific prompts.

Will stakeholders have input?

Just like the previous LCAP, stakeholder engagement is a top priority. OCDE Associate Superintendent Christine Olmstead said districts may incorporate the feedback they’ve already received from surveys, polls and virtual meetings, noting that parent engagement has been high since campuses closed to students in March.

“With distance learning, we’ve had so many more parents asking questions, wanting to know what’s happening and how to help their children,” she said. “Districts are hearing from more parents now, and they’re hearing from a lot of parents who normally wouldn’t ask for help.”

When is the Learning Continuity Plan due?

Districts much adopt their Learning Continuity Plans by Sept. 30, 2020. That’s to ensure plans are in place for the 2020-21 school year and to help facilitate important stakeholder conversations about in-person instruction and distance learning.

Will the Orange County Department of Education approve district plans like they did with the LCAPs?

OCDE and other county offices will review district-level LCPs and provide feedback, but the state doesn’t require county office approval. Instead, locally elected school boards will take all feedback into account and adopt their own plans based on the needs of their schools and communities.

How do I learn more?

For more information, and to access Learning Continuity Plan templates, visit https://www.cde.ca.gov/re/lc/learningcontattendplan.asp.