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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The New QSAC Monitoring System Focuses on Individual Schools & Student Achievement

State Board of Education Adopts Changes to Streamline QSAC Monitoring and to Put Increased Focus on Student Achievement, Health and Safety, and Fiscal Accountability 

 Trenton, NJ - The State Board of Education voted today to streamline the state process for monitoring school districts through amendments to the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC). The changes begin to reduce burdensome compliance and paperwork requirements for districts while focusing on factors that are central to student achievement, health and safety, and fiscal accountability. The changes are part of a larger initiative to remove bureaucratic red tape and focus both state and district resources on what matters most - improving student achievement. 

The Department has committed to continuing to review QSAC to make it a more meaningful improvement tool and to align it with the state's new school-level accountability system outlined in its No Child Left Behind flexibility application, which was approved by the US Department of Education last month. "By adopting these recommendations, we can begin to replace a burdensome system with one that measures what's important. We can eliminate redundancies and free up resources to focus on the needs of all students to provide the highest quality educational experience," State Board President Arcelio Aponte said.

Among others, the changes today include:
  • A reduction in the number of indicators that are self-evaluated by the district and monitored by the New Jersey Department of Education from 334 to 48, which decreases both the time districts spend on compliance and focuses attention on what matter most.
  • The creation of a Statement of Assurance (SOA) that consists of 50 performance quality indicators in the five key component areas of school district effectiveness. The SOA is a self-evaluation tool that districts must complete annually and it will be incorporated as an indicator in each of the five key component areas of the QSAC review that occurs every 3 years. The NJDOE will use the SOA in the intervening years of the QSAC cycle to provide technical assistance to the district on areas where they have identified a deficiency in the SOA.
  • The elimination of duplicative monitoring performed by the department and within the DPRs. For example, the DPRs no longer include monitoring of financial reports that are submitted to the NJDOE annually and no longer include financial management information already monitored through the budget review process.
  • A focus on student growth in the evaluation of student achievement measures, rather than simply a review of whether a district met a certain proficiency level.

In its interim report in September, the Education Transformation Task Force identified a number of deficiencies in the current QSAC process. Among others, the report outlined how QSAC focuses on district “capacity” rather than student performance; that the information provided under current QSAC regulations is inconsistent, unreliable, and fails to distinguish between very different districts; that it has failed to drive district improvement; and that it overlaps and at times contradicts the state’s school-level accountability system.
The changes approved today will take effect immediately for districts undergoing a QSAC review this year.

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