SPARTA, NJ – The Sparta school district has announced a Special Meeting for Monday, August 12 to approve the Quality Single Accountability Continuum District Improvement Plan or QSAC DIP.

Superintendent Michael Rossi had been confident that his appeal of the failing QSAC score would be successful and a DIP would not be necessary.  At the regular July board of education meeting Rossi told board members he had scheduled a meeting with the Educational Specialists from Sussex and Passaic Counties to meet in July 27 to appeal the district’s failing score.  Rossi was so confident the appeal would be successful he was not prepared to complete the DIP at the June meeting.  Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Patrick McQueeney said he had all of the information necessary for the DIP he just has to fill out the forms. 

“I anticipate they will change their minds on Friday,” Rossi said at the meeting when pressed by board member Kim Bragg about getting the DIP completed.

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Sparta received only a 59 out of 100 points in the area of Instruction and Program.  A score of 80 in all five areas of review is required for the district to be deemed “high performing” by the New Jersey Department of Education. The five areas reviewed by QDAC are Instruction and Program, Fiscal, Facilities, Personnel and Governance. 

In the placement letter from NJ DOE the district was advised the DIP must be approved by the board of education and sent to Trenton by August 12, 2019. .   

Next Step:

Rossi must form a QSAC DIP committee to create the plan. The committee must complete a spread sheet template provided by the NJ DOE that must include for each of the indicators that scored a zero:

  • each missed District Performance Review item that needs to be corrected,
  • SMART goal for each missed DPR,
  • the person responsible to ensure it is corrected,
  • the method the district will use to measure the correction complete,
  • a timeline for the process and
  • the source of funds if needed

In addition to losing points for curriculum in all nine subject areas, Sparta also lost points for student achievement and growth as measured on standardized tests.

An example of an Indicator for which Sparta received zero points;“English language arts curriculum and instruction are aligned to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS) in accordance with the Department’s curriculum implementation timeline and include the following: (N.J.A.C. 6A:8)

  • a. Curriculum designed and implemented to meet grade or grade-level expectations and graduation requirements;
  • b. Integrated accommodations and modifications for special education students, English language learners, students at risk of school failure, gifted and talented students, and students with 504 plans;
  • c. Assessments, including formative, summative, benchmark, and alternative assessments;
  • d. List of core instructional and supplemental materials, including various levels of texts at each grade level;
  • e. Pacing guide;
  • f. Interdisciplinary connections;
  • g. Integration of 21st century skills through NJSLS 9;
  • h. Integration of technology through the NJSLS; and
  • i. Career education”

Each of these areas must be brought to alignment with the most recent New Jersey Board of Education standards. The DIP must show a plan to meet all of these standards, a-i  for each of the nine content areas that received zero points.  The nine areas are English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, World Language, Health and Physical Education, Visual and Performing Arts, Technology and 21st Century Life and Careers.

In the troubled Instruction and Program section Sparta gave themselves full credit for being compliant with the most recent standards in all content areas in the 2018-2019 QSAC submission as well as the 2017 QSAC Statement of Assurance signed by Rossi and board president Kelly McEvoy.  In neither case that that true.  The corrected 2017 SoA shows the curriculum was last compliant with state requirements in 2012.

At the July meeting board of education member Kate Matteson said she was disappointed to learn that night that McQueeney and Rossi appeared to know the district was not going to pass QSAC but they did not inform board members.  Matteson said they did not know until the July committee meeting when Rossi showed them the June 27, 2019 placement letter that said they had failed. 

Rossi has not responded to requests for information about the appeal meeting made by TAPinto Sparta.

The August 12 meeting is open to the public, in the auditorium of Mohawk Avenue School, scheduled for 7:30 p.m.