SPARTA, NJ – After having received a failing score on the Quality Single Accountability Continuum or QSAC, the Sparta School District has some work to do.  Sparta Superintendent Michael Rossi told TAPinto Sparta he intends to challenge the score of 59 in Instruction and Program. He said he plans to attend the next New Jersey Board of Education meeting in Trenton to make his case.

Appeal aside, Sparta has a timeline to follow.

According to an email Rossi received from NJQSAC Coordinator Carla Spates on June 27 discussing the district’s placement, Sparta is required to “commence improvement activities,” creating a District Improvement Plan due by August 12, 2019. 

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“Districts have 45 days from the date of the NJQSAC Placement letter to submit a District Improvement Plan or DIP to NJQSAC which is then sent to the appropriate Department of Education County Office,” Director of Public Information for New Jersey Department of Education Mike Yaple said.

The DIP must first be approved by the Sparta Board of Education. Sparta Board of Education meets on July 22.

Spate’s letter also said Rossi had to share the QSAC placement information with board members and appropriate staff.  Further the “district is required to report its placement on the performance continuum at the next public district board of education meeting.”

The DIP must be created by a new QSAC committee, similar in composition to the original committee but with different people. TAPinto Sparta has requested the names of the original committee members from the district, along with committee's minutes but those requests have not yet been fulfilled.

The QSAC Committee Declaration page is blank, in the document received by TAPinto Sparta from an OPRA request.  The positions are listed: Chief School Administrator, District Administrative Staff, Teacher, School Business Administrator, Curriculum and Instruction Representative, Local Collective Bargaining Representative and District Board of Education Member.  The names of the people who participated are missing.

According to Yaple the DIP must address indicators in the District Performance Review or DPR areas where the district did not receive at least 80 points out of 100, as set forth in N.J.A.C. 6A:30-5.3 through 5.7. 

Executive County Superintendent Rosalie Lamonte said, “The county office then visits the district approximately six months after the DIP is approved to check on progress.”

The county office “will keep returning approximately every six months until a passing score is achieved,” according to Lamonte.

After reviewing, Lamonte will present her findings to the Commissioner of Education.  The Assistant Commissioner of Field Services will review Lamonte’s report and give the district an updated QSAC placement letter, revising the scores where appropriate, according to the NJDOE.

“Once the district passes the Instruction and Program area with at least an 80% score, then the district is deemed to be ‘high performing’ since all five areas of QSAC would be above 80%,” Lamonte said.

How is a DIP created:

The process for creating the DIP is specified by the state.  The state provides a template for Sparta’s committee to complete.  The Sparta committee must “establish goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely or SMART” for each missed DPR.  Where necessary the Sparta committee must identify where money will come from to support the required changes.

The committee will have to identify the person responsible for making sure the changes are made and goals are met. The DIP must include a timeline and an explanation of how Sparta will measure successful implantation of required improvements.

Another Option:

Lamonte confirmed Sparta was offered “the opportunity to ‘redo’ QSAC next year.”  “If they were interested, they would have to officially request to be included in the group of districts that are going to undergo full QSAC monitoring in 2019-2020,” Lamonte said.

In a previous interview, when discussing the possible do-over, Rossi said he “did not want to make the staff do all of that work again.”

What is QSAC:

Quality School Assurance Continuum or QSAC is a monitoring process done to ensure districts are compliant with policy, procedure and performance requirements as established by the New Jersey State Board of Education. 

QSAC makes sure districts are following laws that govern schools as codified in the New Jersey Administrative Code.  It also reviews student achievement, growth and graduation by looking at mandated state assessments.

Five areas are reviewed: Instruction and Program, Facilities, Finance, Governance and Operations. Districts must score at least 80 of 100 points in each of the five areas to receive the certification “High Performing.”

New Jersey Department of Education spokesman Michael Yaple said. “Districts do not prepare new reports or implement new processes for the NJQSAC process.”

Sparta received 59 in Instruction and Program.  Rossi said it was because he did not have enough time to make required changes.  Public records show information about the changes were made available in 2017, not 2018 as Rossi stated.

Further, as noted by Yaple, districts are evaluated on things they should already have been doing.

The July 22 meeting will begin at 7:30p.m. though the location has not been confirmed.