BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          Date of Hearing:   May 8, 2013

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
                                Joan Buchanan, Chair
                      AB 631 (Fox) - As Amended:  April 30, 2013
           
          SUBJECT  :  Pupils; Juvenile Court Schools

           SUMMARY  :   Permits a county board of education to modify the  
          course of study offered to pupils in juvenile court schools.   
          Specifically,  this bill  :  

             1)   Permits a county board of education to adopt an enhanced  
               course of study for pupils enrolled in juvenile court  
               schools who are performing three or more grades below grade  
               level.

             2)   Specifies that this course of study shall meet the  
               Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English language arts  
               (ELA) and math.

             3)   Allows a county board of education to use locally  
               approved assessments or statewide assessments to determine  
               the academic needs of the pupil.

             4)   Specifies the purpose of this course of study is to  
               increase a pupil's academic literacy and reading fluency.

             5)   Makes technical non-substantive amendments to this  
               section.

           EXISTING LAW  

             1)   Requires each person between the ages of 6 and 18, with  
               specified exceptions, to attend a full-time instructional  
               program.

             2)   Establishes the minimum school day for juvenile court  
               schools to be 240 minutes; vocational education programs in  
               these schools, as specified, must be at least 180 minutes.

             3)   Requires a county board of education to establish a  
               course of study for its juvenile court schools that meets  
               specified elements, including:
                  a)        Be available for public inspection;








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                  b)        Be evaluated and revised by the county board  
                    of education as necessary;


                  c)        Enforcement of the course of study and use  
                    instructional materials as adopted by the county board  
                    of education;


                  d)        Contain all of the elements set forth  
                    Education Code sections 51202-51284 which identifies  
                    specific elements of instruction that must be included  
                    in a course of study; and


                  e)        Include instruction in the following content  
                    areas: ELA, reading, history/social science, physical  
                    education, science, mathematics, visual and preforming  
                    arts, applied arts, career technology, and automobile  
                    drivers education.


           FISCAL EFFECT  :   This bill is keyed as non-fiscal by Legislative  
          Counsel


           COMMENTS  :   According to the California Department of Education  
          (CDE), in October 2010, there were 83 Juvenile Court Schools  
          reporting an enrollment of 9,010 students. However, CDE  
          demographic reports for prior school years indicate that the  
          total number of students served by these schools over the entire  
          year averaged over 42,000.

           Background  

          Juvenile court schools provide public education for individuals  
          who are incarcerated in facilities run by counties. Juvenile  
          court schools are public schools or classes in any juvenile  
          hall, juvenile home, day center, juvenile ranch, juvenile camp,  
          regional youth educational facility or in any group home housing  
          25 or more children.  These schools operate under the central  
          administration of a county office of education, with acceptable  
          school structures at one or more centrally located sites to  








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          serve the single or composite populations of juvenile court  
          school pupils.  


           These schools, under the protection or authority of the juvenile  
          court system, provide an educational program that meets the  
          needs of students who have been incarcerated in juvenile halls  
          as well as students who have been expelled from their home  
          district schools because of a status offense or other infraction  
          or behavior governed by the Welfare and Institution Code or  
          Education Code. Funding is provided by the state General Fund  
          and is included in the annual apportionment to county offices of  
          education.


          Using data available through the CDE from the 2011-12  
          administration of the California Standardized Tests (CST) in ELA  
          and math, the number of students in a sampling of  juvenile  
          court schools that score below basic or far below basic is  
          staggering:

           Imperial County Office of Education - Juvenile Court School

           75% of students in grades 7 - 11 scored below basic or far below  
          basic on the CST ELA

          89% of students in grades 10 and 11 scored below basic or far  
          below basic on the CST Algebra I



           Los Angeles County Office of Education - Central Juvenile Hall

           86% of students in grades 8 - 11 scored below basic or far below  
          basic on the CST ELA

          96% of students in grades 9 - 11 scored below basic or far below  
          basic on the CST Algebra I



           Fresno County Office of Education - Court School

           75% of students in grades 8 - 11 scored below basic or far below  
          basic on the CST ELA








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          89% of students in grades 10 and 11 scored below basic or far  
          below basic on the CST Algebra I



          Because of the severe magnitude of underperformance, the  
          committee recommends deleting the limitation that enhanced  
          instruction be limited only to those students who are performing  
          three or more grade below grade level and instead permit a  
          county office of education to offer such instruction to any  
          pupil, as appropriate.  In order to assist in the appropriate  
          placement of pupils, the committee recommends allowing a county  
          office of education to use a pupil's scores on statewide  
          assessments.  Using a pupil's previous scores, can serve as a  
          valuable tool in reducing testing time and, in turn, increasing  
          instructional time.



           

          Course of Study

           Existing law requires each local educational agency (LEA) to  
          adopt a course of study for use in each of its schools.  There  
          are numerous elements that must be met within this course of  
          study as prescribed by statute.  These courses of study, while  
          often aligned to the state's academic content standards, are  
          designed by each LEA to meet the unique needs of its pupils.  A  
          county office of education may set its priorities within this  
          course of study, so long as all required elements are included.   
          Given the flexibility in existing law for a county board of  
          education to establish a course of study for pupils in juvenile  
          hall, the committee may wish to consider whether  this bill  is  
          necessary.


           

          Narrowing of the Curriculum  

          The requirements of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and  
          state accountability programs have resulted in districts  
          spending much of their instructional time on reading and math.   








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          School and school districts that fail to make their annual  
          targets in English language arts and math are subject to a  
          variety of sanctions ranging from redirection of federal Title I  
          funds to state takeover.  For these reasons instructional time  
          in other subject areas has greatly diminished and there is  
          almost no time for teachers to teach critical thinking skills.  


          Partly in response to this, California adopted the CCSS.  
          Building on the rigorous standards of NCLB but recognizing the  
          unintended consequence of a narrowed curriculum, the CCSS focus  
          on core conceptual understandings and procedures starting in the  
          early grades, thus enabling teachers to take the time needed to  
          teach core concepts and procedures well-and to give students the  
          opportunity to master them.  In adopting the CCSS, this  
          Legislature signaled an end to curriculum that, whether  
          intentionally or unintentionally, excluded a comprehensive  
          curriculum.


           This bill would permit a county board of education to adopt a  
          separate course of study for its pupils in juvenile hall by  
          providing increased attention to basic reading and math skills  
          for specified pupils who are performing three or more grades  
          below grade level.  The author, however, has indicated that  
          while increased instruction in reading fluency and academic  
          literacy is intended, it is not the author's intention that this  
          increased focus be at the cost of a pupil's access to the  
          general curriculum.  By using the literacy strands in science,  
          social science, and technical subjects embedded in the CCSS in  
          English language arts, this increased focus would permit  
          intensive remediation within the given instructional time  
          without limiting curriculum areas.


           Access to the General Curriculum  


          This bill speaks only to a differentiated curriculum for those  
          students who are performing three grades or more below grade  
          level for reasons other than a specified learning disability.  
          For a student who is defined as a student with a disability  
          under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),  
          his/her individualized educational program is offered in  
          accordance with the laws governing special education, namely the  








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          IDEA.  While not applicable here, examining the use of the  
          phrase "general curriculum" and its specific meaning under IDEA  
          and California's special education laws can be helpful in  
          providing context for examining the potential effects of this  
          bill.  In the special education setting, "general curriculum"  
          means the same curriculum as that established for students  
          without disabilities (34 C.F.R.  300.347(a)(1)(i)). The general  
          curriculum can be thought of as the overall plan for instruction  
          adopted by an LEA with the purpose of guiding the individual,  
          coordinated instructional activities and providing clear and  
          consistent methods and outcomes as influenced by the  
          state-adopted academic content standards. 


          If we borrow the definitions used in implementing IDEA, this  
          would mean that students in juvenile court schools would need to  
          be provided access to the same curriculum as provided to  
          students in other school under the supervision of the county  
          office of education. The committee may wish to consider whether  
          this bill could be interpreted to eliminate a pupil's access to  
          the full curriculum in an effort to provide remediation to  
          increase that pupil's reading and mathematics skills.

           
          Previous Legislation  AB 741 (Goldberg, 2005) required the CDE to  
          submit recommendations to the Legislature to ensure that the K-8  
          curriculum contained specified components.  This bill was held  
          in the Senate Appropriations Committee suspense file.

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          Los Angeles County Office of Education (Sponsor)
          Advancement Project
          California Federation of Teachers
          Junior Leagues of California
          School for Integrated Academics and Technologies (SIATech)

           Opposition 
           
          None on file
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Jill Rice / ED. / (916) 319-2087 









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