Robert Friday, Norma Riccucci, Frank Thompson, Elizabeth
Complying with legal rulings and performance mandates has presented challenges in many of New Jersey's school districts, particularly poor and urban districts. This study examined the policy background as well as grounded experiences of key actors involved in the administration of the Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC), a system of accountability for performance in the Jersey City school district, a state controlled school district. QSAC monitors and evaluates the performance of
more » ... performance of school districts in five key areas: Instruction and Program, Personnel, Fiscal Management, Operations, and Governance. Its objective is to establish an exit strategy for state-operated school districts, building capacity and strategies that will lead to the return of the schools to local control. Using a case study methodology involving legal and policy analysis along with in-depth interviews of school officials, this study addressed the following questions: 1. What were the legal and policy factors that led to the state takeover of the Jersey City School District and the implementation of the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum? 2. How do administrators in the Jersey City School District view QSAC and its impact on district and school improvement? 3. What structures or systems must exist to build district capacity, achieve district and school effectiveness and to establish a thorough and efficient system of education (as required by the New Jersey constitution)? The findings of the study suggest that agreement exists among many central district administrators, that the QSAC process provides a useful self-examination encouraging districts to achieve excellence. However, there is a disconnect between district and school level administrators. The primary finding further suggest that QSAC as a method of accountability for performance is largely connected to Instruction and Program and that a testing system under state control, absent district input, creates a disadvantage for school districts and schools. The study recommend John Kingdon's (1984, 1995) theory on Public Policy and Policy Streams, establishing education Policy Communities, developing Policy Networks in urban and poor school districts similar to the Jersey City School District, is worth an examination to provide some guidance and solutions to achieving federal and state accountability for performance initiatives, district and school effectiveness. ii ACKNOWLEDEMENTS Pusuing and completing my Ph.D has been a long process, but a well rewarding experience. I would like to extend a special thanks to my dissertation committee and professors. I would also like to thank my collegues and students at New Jersey City University for their support and inspiaration. iii DEDICATION First and foremost, I dedicate my success to the memory of my beloved parents, Robert and Gertrude Friday. Although you are no longer physically with us, you have left a loving legacy that radiates and will always remain with us all. I would like to sincerlely thank my wife, Keshia, my children Antoine, Isaiah and Aneesah for their patience, my wonderful siblings, Kevin, Barry and Robin for always having faith in me. I'd like to give a special thanks to my dear mother-in-law, Hazel Goodman, for having faith in me and for being such a wonderful person. My dedication would be incomplete if failed to aknowledge one of the most important individuals in my life, my dear aunt Wilhemina"Tunie" Brown. You have been such an inspiration throughout my entire life and a mother to me, since the day my dear mother departed this life. Your love and inspiration is unmatched and one I wish the world could experience.