Academic Performance Index (API)
The cornerstone of California's Public Schools Accountability Act of 1999, the API measures the academic performance and improvement of schools based on statewide assessment results. From 1999 through 2012, traditional schools received a state rank and a “similar schools” rank by school type (elementary, middle, or high school). However, the 2013–14 Budget Bill repealed the portion of the Education Code that authorized the production of the ranks. As a result, beginning in 2014, schools will no longer receive ranks. Note: In 2014, the California State Board of Education decided not to produce the Growth API for two years during the transition to the state’s new Common Core standards and Smarter Balanced assessments. Instead, the California Department of Education will calculate a 3-year-average API for federal accountability purposes.
Actual v. Funded ADA
The actual (total) ADA for the current year versus the greater (funded) of current or prior year ADA. These numbers are the same in districts with growing numbers of students. Districts with decreasing numbers of students are funded on the prior year's ADA rather than the current year, in part to cushion the impact of declining enrollment.
Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)
A goal of the 2001 federal law No Child Left Behind (NCLB) that requires schools and districts to measure and report students' annual progress toward proficiency in English/language arts and mathematics by 2013-14. Progress is based on whether the school or district met its Annual Measurable Objectives and demonstrated 95% participation on standardized tests, achieved its target on the Academic Performance Index and, for high schools, met target graduation rates.
A voluntary program that provides an appropriate education, often for very high-risk students. Prior to the 2010 Base API, ASAM schools did not receive API targets or ranks. Starting with the 2010 Base API, ASAM schools receive API targets but no ranks.
Alternative Schools Accountability Model (ASAM)
An alternative way of measuring student performance in schools with mostly high-risk students, such as continuation schools, and schools with fewer than 11 valid test scores.
Annual Measurable Objective (AMO)
The annual target for the percentage of students whose test scores must be proficient or above in English/language arts and mathematics. Meeting the AMO is the first step toward demonstrating Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal law No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
Average Class Size
The number of students in classes divided by the number of classes. When calculating the "filtered" version of average class size, certain counts are excluded such as Special Education and classes with more than 50 students. Since some teachers have assignments outside regular classrooms or work part-time, the average class size is usually larger than the pupil-teacher ratio.
Average Daily Attendance (ADA)
The total number of days of student attendance divided by the total number of days in the regular school year. A student attending every school day would equal one ADA. Generally, ADA is lower than enrollment due to such factors as transience, dropouts, and illness. A school district's revenue limit income is based on its ADA. The state collects ADA counts at the district but not the school level.
School districts in which local property tax revenues equal or exceed their revenue limits. These districts keep the excess and until recently also received $120 per ADA ($2,400 for small districts) in constitutionally guaranteed “basic aid” from the state. Fewer than 10% of all districts were considered basic aid until 2003, when the Legislature stopped the basic aid payment to these “excess revenue” districts on the ground that state categorical funds covered the constitutional requirement.
A combination of similar special-purpose funds, usually with reduced restrictions on how the money may be used.
Authorization for a school district or the state to issue general obligation bonds to support capital investment. The two-thirds approval for local district bond measures was reduced to 55% in 2001, with some accountability requirements. The principal and interest are repaid through local property taxes. At the state level a simple majority marks approval, with repayment through state taxes.
A one-year statute that contains the state’s budget appropriations. It must be passed by a two-thirds vote of each house by June 15 and sent to the governor, who may not increase individual items but may reduce or delete them. This deadline is not always met.
A fund consisting of revenue from general obligation bonds and the sale, rental, or lease of property. The money may only be used for expenditures related to capital outlay.
California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP)
California's new assessment system, which in 2014 replaced the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program (STAR). The new Smarter Balanced assessments, which are aligned to the state's new Common Core standards, will be the cornerstone of this system.
California Basic Educational Data System (CBEDS)
An annual collection of basic student and staff data that; includes student enrollment, graduates, dropouts, course enrollment, enrollment in alternative education, gifted and talented education, and more. Statistical information about schools, teachers, and students that is collected from each public school on a given day in October.
California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE)
A two-part test, linked to academic content standards in English/language arts and math, that students must pass in order to graduate beginning with the class of 2006. Tenth graders' CAHSEE scores are one indicator for Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal law No Child Left Behind, and CAHSEE scores are typically 20% of the API for high schools.
California Standards Tests
Tests in English/language arts and mathematics in grades 2-11, science in grades 5 and 9-11, and history/social science in grades 8, 10, and 11 based on California's academic content standards. This was the core of California's statewide Standardized Testing and Reporting Program (STAR). In 2014, STAR was discontinued to make way for the new “Smarter Balanced” assessments, which are aligned to the Common Core State Standards adopted by California in 2010.
A welfare reform program that replaced AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children). Data about CalWORKs (California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids) is no longer available on Ed-Data as of 2004-05. Free or Reduced Price Meals Program data can be used as a socioeconomic indicator for families and children.
Amounts paid for fixed assets or additions to fixed assets, including land or existing buildings, the improvements of grounds, construction of buildings, additions to buildings, remodeling of buildings, or equipment.
Funds from the state or federal government granted to qualifying school districts for children with special needs, such as disabilities; for special programs, such as the School Improvement Program; or for special purposes, such as Economic Impact Aid or Transportation. Expenditure of most categorical aid is restricted to its particular purpose. The funds are granted to districts in addition to their revenue limit income. Note: In 2013, California overhauled its school finance system and implemented the Local Control Funding Formula, which eliminated most of the state's categorical aid programs.
Certificated (Credentialed) Employees
School employees who are required by the state to hold teaching credentials, including full-time, part-time, substitute, or temporary teachers and most administrators. A teacher who has not yet acquired a credential but has an emergency permit or a waiver to teach in the classroom is included in the count.
Publicly funded schools that are exempt from many state laws and regulations governing school districts. They may be established as a charter or converted from an existing public school and frequently have a specific mission. The charter is granted for up to five years by a school district, county office or education, or the State Board of Education and may be renewed for periods of five years. In 2004-05 California had more than 500 charter schools serving about 180,000 students (2.8% of the statewide enrollment). They are subject to the state's STAR program and to the provisions of the federal law, No Child Left Behind.
Class Size Reduction
A state-funded program for kindergarten through third grade classes with no more than twenty students per teacher. On a given day a class may have more than 20 children, but the average in each class must be lower than 20.4 over the school year to ensure full funding. Virtually all 1st and 2nd graders and nearly all kindergarten and 3rd grade students are in the smaller classes. A separate program supports some smaller classes for core subjects in 9th grade.
School employees who are not required to hold teaching credentials, such as secretaries, custodians, bus drivers, instructional aides, and some management personnel.
A cohort is the group of students that could potentially graduate during a 4-year time period (grade 9 through grade 12). This cohort is then "adjusted" by adding students who transfer in to the cohort and subtracting the students who transferred to another school that offers a high school diploma, emigrated to another county, or died during the years covered by the cohort rate. Students who drop out during the four year period remain in the adjusted cohort, as well as students who complete 12th grade and exit the educational system without graduating. Students who take longer than four years to graduate or remain enrolled after four years are also included as part of the cohort.
Federal regulations require all states to use a four-year cohort graduation rate for federal accountability purposes beginning in 2012. California began using cohort data to report graduation and dropout rates with the 2009-10 school year.
Calculations of cohort rates differ from the NCES calculations for high school dropout and completion rates that were used in California prior to 2009-10. As a result, graduation and dropout rates before 2009-10 should not be compared with graduation and dropout rates from 2009-10 or later.
Common Administration Districts
An elementary and high school district with the same administration, school board, and teachers' organization. This common district files a joint financial report but separate demographic and attendance reports.
Community Day/Community Schools
A type of school for high-need students, particularly the homeless or students who have been expelled.
A type of school that provides students 16-18 an option for acquiring a diploma.
Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)
An increase in funding for revenue limits and categorical programs based on various indices of inflation. In tight budget years the Legislature has appropriated only a portion of the amount required by law.
Major repairs or replacement of buildings and equipment. Some matching state funds for these repairs are available to districts with a deferred maintenance program.
A charge per square foot on residential and commercial construction. Developer fees are levied by a school district, with the maximum amount set by law and adjusted for inflation every two years. Proceeds may be used for building or renovating schools and for portable classrooms.
A designation that indicates the grades served in a district. An elementary district is generally kindergarten through 8th grade, high school is generally grades 9 through 12, and unified is kindergarten through 12th grade.
The dropout rate is the percentage of students that leave the 9-12 instructional system without a high school diploma, GED, or special education certificate of completion and do not remain enrolled after the end of the 4th year.
The CDE began using student level data to report a 4-year-cohort dropout rate with the 2009-10 school year. The cohort dropout rate is calculated by dividing the number of students in the 4-year cohort that dropped out by the end of the school year by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for that graduating class.
Prior to 2009-10, the California Department of Education (CDE) calculated one-year and four-year rates based on the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) dropout criteria. The one-year dropout rate was the number of grade 9-12 dropouts divided by grade 9-12 enrollments. The four-year dropout rate was an estimate of the percent of students who would drop out in a four-year period based on data from a single year. Note: Because the 4-year cohort dropout rate is calculated differently from the NCES dropout rates, dropout rates before and after the 2009-10 year cannot be compared.
The CDE defines a dropout for a specific school year as as a student who meets the following criteria:
Was enrolled in grades seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, or twelve at some time during the school year AND left school prior to completing the year
Successfully completed the prior school year but did not begin attending the next grade (seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, or twelve) to which he or she was assigned, preregistered, or expected to attend
Was not enrolled and attending school as of Information Day following the specified school year.
Students who have transferred to another school, received a high school diploma or its equivalent, moved out of the United States, or died are not counted as dropouts. For more information, please see the CDE website (opens in a new tab).
Economic Impact Aid
State categorical funds for districts with concentrations of children who are transient, from low-income families, or need to learn English. EIA was eliminated as a state categorical program in 2013 under the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula for financing schools.
The body of law that regulates education in California. Additional regulations affecting education are contained in the California Administrative Code, Titles 5 and 8, the Government Code, and general statutes.
English Learner (EL)
A student who is not sufficiently proficient in the English language to succeed in the school's regular instructional programs. The former designation was Limited English Proficient (LEP). Students' English proficiency is assessed annually.
A count of the students enrolled in each school and district on a given day in October. This is different from average daily attendance (ADA), which is the average number of students who attended school over the course of the year. The number of pupils enrolled in the school is usually larger than the ADA due to transience, dropouts, and illnesses. Enrollment data is available at the school, district, county and state levels. Enrollment and ADA are both used for funding purposes.
Ethnic Diversity Index
The Ethnic Diversity Index (EDI), developed by EdSource, measures how much variety, or diversity, a school or district has among the seven ethnic categories of students reported to the CDE. Numbers close to 100 indicate a fairly even distribution, while numbers closer to 0 mean that students are predominantly from a single ethnic group.
The designation of students and staff according to seven ethnic/racial groups for the California Department of Education's California Basic Educational Data System (CBEDS). These seven groups, along with a "two or more races" category, meet state and federal reporting requirements.
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Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT)
A state-funded organization that assists schools and districts to improve financial and management accountability.
Free/Reduced Price Meals
A program to provide food for students from low-income families.
Accounting term used by local educational agencies to differentiate general revenues and expenditures from those placed in separate funds for specific uses, such as a Cafeteria Fund. The General Fund is used to account for the ordinary operations of a local educational agency. All transactions except those required or permitted by law to be in another fund are accounted for in the General Fund.
General Obligation Bond (G. O. Bond)
Bonds for capital outlay, financed through taxes. Local school bonds require approval by either a 55% (with conditions) or a two-thirds vote; state measures need only a majority vote.
Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)
State funds to participating districts for educational services to children who are identified as exceptionally able or talented.
The number of 12th-grade graduates who received a diploma in the school year indicated or over the following summer. It does not include students who passed the California High School Proficiency Examination, earned a General Educational Development (GED) certificate, or completed programs administered by a community college or through adult education.
The graduation rate is the percentage of the students expected to graduate in 4 years who actually did graduate.
Federal regulations require all states to use a four-year cohort graduation rate for federal accountability purposes beginning in 2012. California began using cohort data to report graduation rates with the 2009-10 school year. This graduation rate is calculated by dividing the number of students in the 4-year adjusted cohort who graduate in four years or less with either a traditional high school diploma, an adult education high school diploma, or have passed the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for that graduating class.
Prior to 2009-10, the graduation rate was calculated by dividing the number of high school graduates by the number of graduates plus dropouts (based on data from schools) from the previous four years. This calculation was called the NCES Completer Rate. Note: Because the 4-year cohort graduation rate is calculated differently from the NCES completer rate, graduation rates before and after the 2009-10 year cannot be compared. Thus, the NCES Completer Rate will be reported as the AYP Graduation Rate until the 2012 AYP when a graduation growth rate can be calculated using two years of comparable data.
High School Exit Exam
See California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE).
Instructional Materials, K-8 & 9-12
State funds specifically for classroom materials, such as textbooks and workbooks.
Financial and program cost accounting reports submitted by school districts and county offices to the California Department of Education. The information was used to monitor the fiscal condition of school districts and county offices prior to 2003-04. Beginning with 2003-04, all local educational agencies report their financial data in the Standardized Account Code Structure (SACS).
A voluntary report by school districts and county offices listing teachers' salaries and benefits. This report, the most comprehensive certificated salary and benefit data available in the state, includes information from 81 percent of school districts and county offices, representing 98 percent of the state's average daily attendance.
Juvenile Court School
An educational program provided by counties for students in the Juvenile Court system.
Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF)
Signed into law on July 1, 2013, the Local Control Funding Formula, also known as LCFF, overhauls California's school finance system, replacing "revenue limits" and most "categorical funds" with a per-pupil base grant plus additional money for high-needs (low income, English learner, and foster youth) students. For more information about the new funding formula, please see Understanding the Local Control Funding Formula.
Local Education Agency (LEA)
An entity that operates local public primary and secondary schools. In California, LEAs include school districts and county offices of education. Depending upon the context, the term may also include charter schools.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
The 2001 reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that places comprehensive accountability requirements on all states, with increasing sanctions for schools and districts that do not make Adequate Yearly Progress toward proficiency in English/language arts and mathematics or that fail to test 95% of all students and all significant student groups. In California, those sanctions currently apply only to schools and districts that accept Title I funding.
A type of school that provides short-term education for high-risk students.
Population Status describes a school’s location. The system to describe a school's locale was originally developed in the 1980s and redesigned by the NCES and the U.S. Census Bureau in 2006-07. The CDE began using the new codes with 2010-11 data. To see the categories used for prior years, please click here. For more information, please see the NCES website.
City, Large Territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with population of 250,000 or more.
City, Mid-size Territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with a population less than 250,000 and greater than or equal to 100,000.
City, Small Territory inside an urbanized area and inside a principal city with a population less than 100,000.
Suburb, Large Territory outside a principal city and inside an urbanized area with population of 250,000 or more.
Suburb, Mid-size Territory outside a principal city and inside an urbanized area with a population less than 250,000 and greater than or equal to 100,000.
Suburb, Small Territory outside a principal city and inside an urbanized area with a population less than 100,000.
Town, Fringe Territory inside an urban cluster that is less than or equal to 10 miles from an urbanized area.
Town, Distant Territory inside an urban cluster that is more than 10 miles and less than or equal to 35 miles from an urbanized area.
Town, Remote Territory inside an urban cluster that is more than 35 miles from an urbanized area.
Rural, Fringe Census-defined rural territory that is less than or equal to 5 miles from an urbanized area, as well as rural territory that is less than or equal to 2.5 miles from an urban cluster.
Rural, Distant Census-defined rural territory that is more than 5 miles but less than or equal to 25 miles from an urbanized area, as well as rural territory that is more than 2.5 miles but less than or equal to 10 miles from an urban cluster.
Rural, Remote Census: A defined rural territory that is more than 25 miles from an urbanized area and is also more than 10 miles from an urban cluster.
Data Not Available: New school not yet assigned a population status code by the Census Bureau, or where there has been a change in the CDS Code, or a school not reporting on the California Basic Educational Data System (CBEDS) collection.
Program Improvement (PI)
A plan with a series of steps to improve the performance of students in a school that did not make adequate yearly progress (AYP) under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) for two years in a row. Only schools that receive federal Title I funds are placed in Program Improvement. The steps in PI could include a revised school plan, professional development, tutoring for some students, transfer to another school with free transportation, and, at the end of five years, significant restructuring.
An initiative amendment to the California Constitution passed in June 1978. Tax rates on secured property are restricted to no more than 1% of "full cash value." Proposition 13 also defines assessed value and requires a two-thirds vote to change existing or levy new special purpose taxes.
An initiative that limits non-English language instruction for students who are learning English. Approved by voters in June 1998, Proposition 227 permits parents to petition a school to provide instruction in students' native language as well as in English.
Propositions 98 and 111
Voter-approved initiatives that amended the California constitution in 1988 and 1990 to guarantee a minimum amount of funding for K-14 education each year. The propositions included formulas for calculating the guarantee under different economic conditions. Proposition 98 also mandated School Accountability Report Cards.
Public Employees Retirement System (PERS)
Public Employees' Retirement System. Unless exempted by state law, classified employees, their district, and the state contribute to this retirement fund.
The total student enrollment divided by the number of full-time equivalent teachers. The pupil-teacher ratio is the most common statistic for comparing staffing data across states. The ratio is usually smaller than average class size because some teachers work outside the classroom.
Regional Occupational Centers/Regional Occupational Programs (ROC/P)
State funding for training in entry-level jobs, job-related counseling, and upgrading skills for students age 16 to 18.
Money whose use is controlled by law or by a donor. Money that is designated for specific purposes by the district or governing board is not considered restricted. The SACS (Standardized Account Code Structure) financial reports on Ed-Data indicate which revenues and expenditures are restricted.
The specific combination of state and local property taxes a school district may receive per pupil (ADA) for its general education program. Categorical aid is granted in addition to revenue limit income. Note: In 2013, California overhauled its school finance system and implemented the Local Control Funding Formula, which replaced revenue limits with a per-pupil base grant and eliminated most of the state's categorical aid programs.
see "Regional Occupational Centers/Regional Occupational Programs"
The SAT I Reasoning Test (formerly called Scholastic Aptitude Test), widely used as a college entrance examination. A score can be compared to state and national averages of seniors graduating from any public or private school.
School Improvement Program (SIP)
State funds for qualifying schools (K-6 and 7-12) to carry out a plan developed by a school site council for improving the school environment, organization, instruction and/or services. In 2005-05 SIP was folded into one of six block grants.
The designation of the kind of school, usually elementary, middle, or high. Examples of alternatives are community day/county community schools for high-need students including expelled or homeless; continuation schools, an option for ages 16-18 to acquire a diploma; juvenile court schools; and short-term opportunity schools for high-risk students.
School Accountability Report Card (SARC)
An annual report of accountability, performance, demographic, school safety, staffing, and financial data for each public school in California. Since November 1988, state law has required all public schools receiving state funding to prepare and distribute a SARC each year by February 1. A similar requirement is also contained in the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. For more information, please see the CDE's SARC guide.
SELPA (Special Education Local Plan Area)
A state-mandated association that oversees and facilitates education for students with disabilities. The SELPA coordinates with school districts and the County Office of Education to provide a continuum of programs and services for disabled individuals from birth through 22.
An elementary district with fewer than 101 ADA; a high school district with fewer than 301 ADA; and a unified (K-12) district with fewer than 1,501 ADA.
Students whose parents do not have a high school diploma or who participate in the free/reduced price lunch program because of low family income.
Programs to identify and meet the educational needs of children with emotional, learning, or physical disabilities. Federal law requires that all children with disabilities be provided a free and appropriate education according to an Individual Education Plan (IEP) from infancy until 21 years of age.
Standardized Account Code Structure (SACS)
A uniform, comprehensive, and minimum chart of accounts for classifying the financial activities of California local school districts and county offices of education. Phase-in began in 1997-98, and in 2003-04 all LEAs reported in SACS.
Standardized Testing and Reporting Program (STAR)
Three tests mandated for grades 2 through 11:
Note: California discontinued its STAR testing program in 2014 and began its new assessment program, the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). The new Smarter Balanced assessments, aligned to the state's new Common Core standards, will be the cornerstone of this system.
- California Standards Tests (CSTs) based on California academic content standards in English/language arts and mathematics in all grades, science in 5 and 9-11, and history/social science in 8, 10 and 11;
- a standardized national test (CAT/6 replaced SAT-9 in spring 2003); and
- a test for Spanish-speaking students who have been in a California school for a year or less ("Aprenda," as of 2006-07).
State Board of Education Charter
Most charter schools are authorized by either a local school district or county office of education. However, if the charter is denied by these entities, a charter school petitioner may submit the petition to open a charter to the State Board of Education (SBE). If the SBE approves the charter, the Board may designate a local education agency (LEA) to oversee the school, provided that the LEA is in the same county as the school and agrees to take on that responsibility.
State Teachers Retirement System (STRS)
A retirement fund to which, by law, all certificated employees, school districts, and the state must contribute.
Statewide Benefit Charter
The State Board of Education may authorize a five-year charter for the operation of a charter school that will provide instructional services of "statewide benefit" that cannot be provided by a charter school operating in only one school district, or only in one county. Statewide benefit charters must adhere to all other charter laws with the exception of geographic limitations. They must open at least two new sites/schools in different counties in areas with struggling schools. After the first two sites have operated for two years and met performance objectives, operators may open two additional sites each year.
Statewide Student Identifier (SSID)
A unique student identifier assigned to each K-12 pupil enrolled in a public school program or in a charter school that will remain with the student throughout his or her academic ‘career’ in the California public school system.
Title I, Migrant Education
Funds for districts with students whose parents are migrant workers.
Title I, Title VI
Funds from the federal Educational Consolidation and Improvement Act. Title I is for educationally disadvantaged children; Title VI is for innovative education program strategies. (These programs were formerly called Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.) In California, schools and districts receiving Title I funds are placed in Program Improvement if they fail to make Adequate Yearly Progress under NCLB.
Money whose use, except for general guidelines, is not controlled by law or by a donor. Unrestricted funds may include money that is designated by the district or governing board.
Prepared by the California Department of Education and EdSource.