The city’s school district has shown sustained improvement in majority of the five areas covered under the Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC), a metric the state uses to evaluate public school districts, but its performance in at least one area – instruction and program – has been so low as to warrant a half-hour discussion at the most recent school board meeting.
32-percent is the district’s score in instruction and program, according to the QSAC review completed in November 2015. While other areas – fiscal management, operations, personnel, and governance — saw dramatic improvements over the past nearly a decade, instruction and program remained free from marked positive change.
School board president Christopher Irving on Wednesday night said the district has been working on a curriculum for the past two years, which once completed and implemented, may help boost the instruction and program score.
“It’s not about just putting in a curriculum. It’s about putting in an effective curriculum,” added Jonathan Hodges, school board member. He said the district needs to draw up and implement a curriculum that takes into account city students’ educational needs.
“By not having all of the curriculum done you lose 25 points,” said Theodore “TJ” Best, the district’s resident expert in QSAC review. “Even if we did all the curriculum, we may not get all the 25 points.”
Best said the instruction and program area is heavily reliant on state assessments. Hodges suggested a good curriculum would focus on the areas in which city students are deficient and address them. Which, said Hodges, should naturally result in better scores in state assessments.
State-appointed district superintendent Donnie Evans said the state controlled districts may be able to use alternative means to improve in the instruction and program area. He did not divulge much information about the alternatives.
I think folks in the department of education know, if they are going to return any of the local urban districts’ instruction and program, test scores will make it nearly impossible, said Irving.
School officials said Jersey City may be in process of obtaining control over instruction and program – it’s only remaining area — through a waiver of some sort.
“It’s going to be a long journey,” said Irving. The journey may be shortened if the state revises the way it scores the instruction and program area in favor of state operated districts or establish a waiver mechanism.
“We fix the I and P issue. We fix the governance issue,” said Evans. The district has two areas that remain outside the control of the elected school board: governance and instruction and program.
“They are not going to give us instruction and programs for a while,” said Rosie Grant, executive director of the Paterson Education Fund, an advocacy, as she urged the board to sue the state for underfunding the district which has forced painful budget cuts.
Hodges said to write the curriculum and to implement it requires staff. He suggested that may not be easy to do with a $45 million budget gap on hand.
The school board this month gained control over fiscal management and personnel. In 2014, it procured control over operations.
Governance appears to be within reach. The district’s latest score in that area was 76-percent. 80-percent is the threshold the state uses to determine whether a local school board should regain control over a given area.
The district’s QSAC scores for the past years:
|District Performance Review (DPR) areas||Initial Placement Full Review (7/2007)||Interim Review Placement (1/2010)||Interim Review Placement (12/2010)||Full Review Placement (9/2011)||Interim Review Placement (6/2013)||Full Review Placement (6/2014)||Interim Review Placement (11/2015)|
|Instruction and Program||22%||28%||31%||33%||30%||32%||32%|