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KPMG: NJ ED DEPARTMENT HAS SERIOUS PROBLEMS

ELC CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE CORRECTIVE ACTION

A recently released evaluation of the NJ Department of Education by the national management firm of KPMG calls into serious question the agency’s ability to fulfill its responsibilities. As a result, ELC is calling on Governor Jon Corzine to develop an immediate plan for "corrective action."

The evaluation was required by legislation passed in early 2007, following complaints by legislators about the Department’s performance and its capacity to meet increasing obligations, including implementation of a new statewide monitoring system, expanded oversight duties for County offices, and development of a new school funding formula.

The KPMG evaluation focused on the Department’s implementation of the Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC), the state’s new accountability system for monitoring school districts, and CORE, a new state law that substantially increases the scope of the county superintendents’ responsibilities and authority. A detailed analysis of the findings in the KPMG report  by ELC found issues that affect—but go far beyond—those two areas. Among the major issues KPMG identified are:

  • Misalignment between the state’s strategic plan for public education with NJDOE goals and objectives
  • Competing and inconsistent decision-making processes between the State Board of Education and the NJDOE
  • Minimal input from stakeholders on NJDOE’s reorganization
  • Lack of clarity about the roles and functions of former Abbott division staff and other staff.
  • Vacancies in 84 out of 678 or 12.4 percent of the budgeted staff positions at the NJDOE.
  • Inadequate staffing levels
  • Absence of established implementation teams
  • Lack of training or technical assistance provided to internal staff; and
  • Lack of communication within the NJDOE about the interpretation of CORE, QSAC and the implications for their implementation.

In a September 21st, op-ed  column, ELC Executive Director David Sciarra wrote that KPMG's findings require Governor Corzine to take immediate action. Mr. Sciarra also pointed out that key legal mandates, including the State’s district monitoring system, is at serious risk. Accordingly, ELC is calling for legislative hearings to give KPMG the opportunity to present its findings publicly, and to allow the Legislature to press for prompt corrective action and ensure follow-through.

Neither the Governor nor Senate President Richard Codey or Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts has responsed to the KPMG report and its findings.

Prepared: October 16, 2007