According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Camden Public Schools has failed the State’s Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC) performance review in every one of the five categories except for Financial Management. The district received failing grades in four of the five categories – instruction and program (7%); operations (47%); personnel (9%); and governance (33%). It received 79% in fiscal management, which acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf said was “mostly because the district was checked daily by a state-appointed fiscal monitor.”
This is only surprising because Camden’s administrators and school board members approved a self-evaluation based on the same rubric and gave itself passing grades in every category. For example, the district awarded itself a top score in Personnel, but the State gave it a 9%. In Instruction and Program, the district gave itself a 67%; the State gave it a 7%.
Here’s the district’s self-evaluation using QSAC.
It’s not supposed to work this way. Answers to QSAC questions are supposed to be data-based, not matters of opinion. For example, in the Instruction section districts are allotted specific points for how students perform on standardized tests, whether lesson plans are aligned with the NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards, if the Board adopts mandated materials, student attendance records, etc.
The discrepancies between the state and district evaluations evoked distress from Camden’s Mayor Dana Redd (“The district is in disarray, and we need help.”), David Sciarra of Education Law Center (“The children have effectively lost a year”), and Board President Susan Dunbar-Bey (“In instruction [7 percent] that could not possibly be correct. I don’t believe it.” School Superintendent Bessie LeFra Young, who has been absent for 221 days over the last two years, had no comment.