"The Williams lawsuit opened the door to a more systematic and timely identification and resolution of deficiencies in textbooks, facilities, and teacher certification that impede student achievement in low-performing schools. Unfortunately, Williams does not provide a total solution for schools. The biggest problem is that education funding in California is still among the lowest in the nation."
Sheila Jordan, County Superintendent of Schools
The Williams Settlement Legislation Background
The Williams Settlement Legislation stems from Eliezer Williams, et al. v. State of California, et al., a class action lawsuit filed in 2000 alleging that the state failed to provide poor and underprivileged public school students with equal access to textbooks and instructional materials, safe and decent facilities, and qualified teachers.
ACLU's Case report in English (click here) and Spanish (click here)
The legislation requires that the County Superintendent of Schools conduct site visits, monitor, and report on the progress of the state's lowest-performing schools in meeting the provisions of the legislation. These schools are defined as those ranked in deciles 1, 2, and 3 on the 2010 Academic Performance Index (API). The State Department of Education renews this list on a three year cycle.
In February 2005, Superintendent Jordan created the ACOE/Williams Task Force comprised of key staff from Business Services, Educational Services, Human Resources, and Communications to prepare and guide districts. The ACOE/Williams Task Force has continued to work closely with other county offices around the state to develop the necessary training materials, standardize forms, and implement processes to be used at the district and county level to comply with the Williams Legislation. ACOE continues to train district and school site administrators and is working closely with them to increase efforts to address all areas of the Williams Legislation: Instructional Materials availability to students, Facilities in "good repair", Assist districts in communicating to the public (School Report Card), and audit and correct credentialing assignments of all teachers. The County Office will conduct "validation visits" in September 2010.
In Alameda County, there are approximately 100 schools ranked in deciles 1 through 3 schools (on the 2010 base API). Annual monitoring includes an assessment of each school's teachers (whether they have the appropriate certifications and classroom assignments), as well as "validation visits" to validate:
- Sufficiency of textbooks and instructional materials;
- Posting of the Uniform Complaint Procedure
- Condition of facilities that pose emergency or urgent threat to the health or safety of pupils;
- Accuracy of data reported on the school accountability report card (SARC) regarding:
- Availability of sufficient textbooks and instructional materials;
- Safety, cleanliness, and adequacy of school facilities including good repair.
What about schools in decile 4 or higher on the 2010 Academic Performance Index?
Although low-performing schools are the primary focus, every school in California is impacted. All schools are required to submit annual reports on the sufficiency in their schools of textbooks, condition of facilities and teacher certifications. The Williams Legislation enhances public reporting in the School Accountability Report Cards (SARC); however, these reports are not validated and reported on by the County Superintendent of Schools.