NJSBA applauds the state Department of Education’s efforts to streamline the school-monitoring system known as NJQSAC, or the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum.
“NJBSA believes NJQSAC can play an important role to help school boards achieve goals,” John Burns, NJSBA counsel/lobbyist, told members of the State Board of Education last week. “Making the process more efficient and less time-consuming would allow districts to more efficiently use limited administrative resources and to focus attention on factors that directly impact student achievement, fiscal accountability and local district governance.”
The State Board of Education only heard testimony on NJQSAC at its August 3 meeting, but did not take any action. Additional public testimony is expected to be taken at the State Board’s September meeting in Trenton. A vote on the final NJQSAC process will take place at a future meeting.
NJQSAC Review Through the NJQSAC process, the state Department of Education reviews school districts on five review sections: instruction/program; fiscal management; operations; personnel; and governance. School districts are measured on a total of 334 indicators within the five review sections. They must meet 80 percent of the indicators in all five sections to be state certified, and those falling below 80 percent in one or more sections must implement an improvement plan.
A NJQSAC task force comprised of Department of Education staff, district administrators, faculty and district board members found value in the school-monitoring process, but it also found the current process to be too burdensome.
Streamlined System The proposed process to streamline NJQSAC would reduce the number of indicators in the five review sections from 334 to 54.
“However, it maintains the rigorous standards necessary for excellence as districts would still need to achieve 80 percent of the number of indicators in each of the five sections to be considered ‘high performing,’” NJSBA noted in its testimony.
“In addition, the proposal calls for each district’s superintendent to annually submit to the Department of Education a “Statement of Assurance” document to verify that the school system is meeting 49 other standards in each of the five sections,” Burns said. “The local school board must approve the document by saying that it attests, to the best of its knowledge, that the district is complying with the standards in the Statement of Assurance.”
Burns added, “The amendments to the NJQSAC process create a more concise self-evaluation for districts while enabling the system to continue serving as an accountability tool for the department.”
Adoption Process The State Board is expected to formally adopt the proposal on or around January 2012.
Until that time, the Department of Education has made the proposed NJQSAC forms available to local school officials so they may be able to review them and prepare coming changes.
Details about the proposal can be found by reading Item E, and Appendixes A, B and C in the State Board’s August agenda.