District granted QSAC equivalency
The Point Pleasant Borough School District was notified this week that due to its consistent ranking as a high-performing district under New Jersey’s Quality Single Accountability Continuum, or QSAC, process, the district has been granted a QSAC equivalency waiver, extending the high-performing status for an additional three years.
QSAC, the New Jersey Department of Education’s monitoring and evaluation system for public school districts, is a comprehensive accountability review process that takes place over a three-year period. District performance is measured against a set of specific indicators in the key component areas of school district effectiveness, including, Instruction and Program, Fiscal Management, Governance, Operations, and Personnel.
“Districts must score at least 80 percent in each of the five categories to earn the 'high-performing' designation under the QSAC process," said Superintendent of Schools Vincent S. Smith. “In the two QSAC cycles that the district has completed since the process began in 2006, we’ve maintained an average score of 96 percent, including perfect scores during both cycles in the areas of Governance and Personnel.
It was this outstanding record, according to the superintendent, that allowed the district to take advantage of the Department of Education’s new equivalency waiver application process.
“The equivalency and waiver process is a means to seek immediate regulatory relief and to develop innovative approaches and cost-effective solutions that meet the individual needs of public education institutions,” New Jersey’s Commissioner of Education David C. Hespe wrote in a statement.
Superintendent Smith said the Point Pleasant Borough School District was part of a cohort of about 204 high-performing New Jersey school districts that were deemed eligible for the more streamlined review process.
“Previously, completing the QSAC requirements was a long and rigorous process that required the support and cooperation of the entire school district,” said Mr. Smith.
He said the comprehensive QSAC cycle consists of three phases, which are completed over three years; the phases include, district self-evaluation, county superintendent review, and final review by state commissioner of education.
“Under the full QSAC review process, districts must first complete a comprehensive district performance review (DPR), measuring compliance against a set of indicators in the five specified areas,” he said, noting that school administrators are required to verify all assessments with supporting documentation including test scores, budgets and state report cards.
"Once all the data is compiled, the DPR and supporting documentation is submitted to the Ocean County Executive Superintendent for a second evaluation," he said. "The final stop is the office of the state commissioner of education, who levies the official determination."
Although the DPR is submitted only once every three years, in the intervening years between submissions, districts must complete and submit to the Department of Education each year, Statements of Assurance, assuring continued compliance with the QSAC indicators.
“It’s an extremely labor-intensive process that involves all facets of the school district and required the collaboration of the educational team and business office staff,” he said. “It’s because of the substantial demands on time and resources necessitated by QSAC, that the district, with the support of the Board of Education, seized the opportunity to apply for the equivalency waiver as soon as it was availed to us.
Mr. Smith said to complete the equivalency waiver application, the district had to provide to the state, evidence of continued high-performance based on the QSAC Differentiation Checklist, a list of 23 metrics developed by the New Jersey Department of Education. These metrics included student proficiency rates, graduation rates, absence of audit findings, ACHIEVENJ compliance, compliance with the annual budget process and more.
“I’m pleased to announce that the district retained its high-performing status under the new metrics, and as a result, our equivalency application was approved,” he said. “On Monday, Feb. 29, the district was notified by Commissioner Hespe that the district’s waiver was approved and our high-performing status extended for another three years.
“Although the district is still required to submit an annual Statement of Assurance attesting to continued high-performance in the five component areas’ performance indicators, the streamlined process will allow the district more time to focus on what matters most – student achievement, without sacrificing state oversight,” he said.