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NJ ED COMMISSIONER FAILS TO HELP IMPROVE CAMDEN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

ELC Demands State Take Corrective Action under District Monitoring Law

January 20, 2012

Education Law Center has put Acting Commissioner of Education Christopher Cerf on notice about the State’s failure to bring in outside experts to conduct an “in-depth evaluation” and develop and implement an improvement plan to address deficiencies in the Camden Public Schools, as required by New Jersey’s school district monitoring law, known as the Quality Single Accountability Continuum or “QSAC.”

The deficiencies in Camden were indentified in June 2010, when former Commissioner Bret Schundler gave the district low scores on “performance indicators” in several areas of QSAC monitoring. Commissioner Schundler found the district met less than 50% of the performance indicators in three of the five QSAC areas: instruction and program, personnel, and governance.

The State evaluates all New Jersey school districts for performance under the QSAC system. 

If a district scores less than 50% in one or more of the QSAC areas, the Commissioner is mandated by QSAC law and regulations to assemble a team of experts to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the district’s deficiencies, and then develop and implement an improvement plan to correct those deficiencies. The Commissioner is also required to provide the district with ongoing technical assistance and other support to ensure the district has the capacity to address the deficiencies and improve the quality of education for students.

The QSAC law also requires the involvement of parents, teachers and community stakeholders in the State’s evaluation and corrective action efforts.

ELC has confirmed that, although Camden scored below 50% in three QSAC areas, Acting Commissioner Cerf has yet to undertake the required in-depth evaluation, even though Camden’s QSAC scores were issued 18 months ago.

In a letter to the Acting Commissioner, ELC requests that the State move quickly to comply with the QSAC law and regulations. Specifically, ELC has asked Mr. Cerf to provide “a detailed plan of action, including an expedited schedule, for conducting and completing the in-depth evaluation of Camden.”

“Having found deficiencies under QSAC, the Commissioner now must provide meaningful expertise, assistance and support to district officials, principals and teachers in their efforts to improve the quality of education and outcomes in the Camden public schools,” said David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director. “It’s time for Governor Christie to stop calling Camden schools ‘failing’ and instead take concrete action, as required by law. That would demonstrate a real commitment to Camden schoolchildren.”

 

Press Contact:

Sharon Krengel
Policy and Outreach Coordinator
skrengel@edlawcenter.org
973-624-1815, x 24