Administration Defines High-Performing School Districts By the Numbers

John Mooney | December 9, 2014 | Education
As part of its attempt to speed state monitoring for some, Department of Education spells out specific new targets to be hit

QSAC spot art
A lot of New Jersey school districts may claim to be high-performing, but what does it really take to earn that honorific?

The Christie administration has put out its most concise definition yet as part of its plan for a streamlined monitoring process for schools that consistently meet the standards under the evaluation known as the Quality Single Accountability Continuum or QSAC.

Under the new plan, school districts that can document on an annual basis that they meet 20 out of 24 selected QSAC criteria will be eligible for a waiver from the more conventional monitoring process for up to six years.

Currently, a majority of districts meet the high-performance definition under QSAC — 79 percent in 2013 — but that includes more than 100 targets, and documentation is a lengthy, time-consuming process.

In the new definition, the requirements remain heavy on the instructional side, and far more limited — and with some interesting picks — in the operations and personnel categories.

Instruction and Program – meets six of eight metrics

1. 80 percent students proficient in language arts literacy in the state’s tests
2. 80 percent students proficient in math in the state’s tests
3. 70 percent students proficient in science in the state’s tests
4. No state-designated Priority or Focus schools
5. Four-year graduation rate of at least 90 percent
6. English language arts, math, social studies, science curricula aligned to state-approved standards
7. District meets its annual measurable objective (AMO) for all subgroups of students in language arts literacy
8. District meets its AMO for all subgroups of students in math

Fiscal – meets five of six metrics

1. Receive unqualified audit
2. No repeat audit findings
3. Fiscal reports timely
4. Grant reports timely
5. Budget requirements followed
6. Facilities reviews conducted

Governance – meets two of three metrics

1. Administrative contracts submitted on time
2. Procedures for state approval of applicable administrative contracts followed
3. Required ethics disclosures filed

Operations – meets three of four metrics

1. NJSMART student data reports at least 98 percent accurate
2. Timely submission of violence and vandalism data
3. Submission of safety/security agreements with local law enforcement
4. No significant Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) findings

Personnel – meets one of two metrics

1. Implementation benchmarks met for AchieveNJ teacher evaluation
2. No substantiated cases of staff/institutional abuse of students