School Monitoring System Issues Grades

John Mooney | July 21, 2010
QSAC’s three-year review results in hard numbers for 576 districts across the state

New Jersey’s system for monitoring school districts has been called everything from a paperwork nightmare to a valuable gauge of school effectiveness.

And no one can deny its bureaucratic bent, evident in the name alone: the Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC).

Whatever the description, the QSAC – launched with fanfare in 2007 – has made available its grades for 576 school districts reviewed over the last three years, with success rates for each district in five areas: Instruction & Programming, Fiscal Management, Operations, Personnel and Governance.

QSAC Scores

The actual reports should be made available by local school boards, and the state’s website also provides in-depth detail.

But the numbers – the percentage of indicators reached in each area – give a sense of how well districts have met state requirements and guidelines on everything from student performance and budget accounting to personnel and school board policies.

The districts span Absecon to Wyckoff, with scores ranging from Brigantine’s perfect showing to Camden City’s tough report card revealing less than a third of the indicators matched.

But overall, the state’s schools did pretty well by the QSAC’s count, with nearly three-quarters of all districts deemed “high performing” for attaining at least 80 percent in all five areas, the equivalent of a B or better.

Whether these criteria make for a good school system is a matter of judgment. But if nothing else, it looks like most of them are at least doing what they’re told.