Do you know that it has been 19 years [August 3, 1991] since the State of New Jersey took over the Paterson Public Schools? Since that time Paterson has had six State Superintendents, seven Commissioners of Education and seven Governors. For a long time it seemed that we would never get out of state operation. No one put any concrete proposals forward, even when it was clear that state operation was only doing marginally better with student achievement, year after year.
It took the State of New Jersey until 2004 to finally address a pathway out of state operation to local control. I sat on the committee in 2002-3 that drafted the initial proposals that eventually produced the 2004 legislation call QSAC. It wasn’t a pretty process.
Now we have the QSAC process: Quality Single Accountability Continuum. It’s a big mouthful. QSAC is a new monitoring and evaluation system for all public school districts. It is a single comprehensive accountability system that consolidates and incorporates the monitoring requirements of applicable state laws and programs and complements federally required improvements. The system will focus on monitoring and evaluating school districts in five key components which, based on research, have been identified to be key factors in effective school districts. These components are:
- Instruction and program 2. Personnel 3. Fiscal management 4. Operations 5. Governance.
For each component there is a checklist of items that the district, its schools and the school board should do. Districts don’t receive credit for a section unless all the items in that section are approved. That’s how we acquired only 11 points for Governance the first time around.
Where are we now? It’s hard to tell. The Passaic County Superintendent of Schools has not met the schedule for QSAC monitoring that was laid out in the law and regulations. The school board members fume about a botched process, but have little control over making it right. Watch for a new QSAC report this fall to touch off another debate about Paterson’s readiness to return to local control.
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