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ERIC Number: ED504900
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Aug
Pages: 72
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
New Jersey's Special Review Assessment: Loophole or Lifeline? A Policy Brief
Fine, Michelle; Pappas, Liza; Karp, Stan; Hirsch, Lesley; Sadovnik, Alan; Keeton, Andre; Bennett, Mary
Education Law Center
Ordinarily, one might expect that an alternative education program that encourages thousands of secondary students to stay in school and remain on track to earn a high school diploma would have broad support. However, New Jersey's "special review assessment" or SRA, has been the subject of longstanding and, at times, contentious public debate. Detractors of the SRA have called it a "backdoor diploma" that "hurts the very students it seeks to help." Supporters assert that the SRA is a legitimate alternative to the state's more traditional exit test, the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA), and has even "saved lives" by providing struggling students with an alternative that keeps them from dropping out of school and the resulting well-documented negative personal and social consequences. Yet despite much talk in education circles about data-driven reform, there has been little research on the role of the SRA in allowing students to satisfy New Jersey's graduation standards. Aside from aggregate totals of the numbers of students graduating through HSPA and SRA, little information has been made available to date on the demographic characteristics or educational experience of these students, their access to opportunities to learn and their post-secondary outcomes compared to other graduates or dropouts. This report is an attempt, in part, to help fill this gap and to supply information that can help to inform policy decisions that will affect thousands of New Jersey's students and hundreds of its communities. This study: (1) Reviews the history of the SRA policy and debate; (2) Reports findings of a multi-method study undertaken to document the potential impact of SRA elimination on secondary students in New Jersey, with a particular emphasis on the implications by race, ethnicity, social class and community; (3) Places New Jersey policy debates about graduation policy and secondary reform in national context; (4) Identifies a set of policy considerations for a variety of constituencies; and (5) Offers recommendations on how New Jersey might strengthen the rigor of its graduation requirements without losing ground on its impressive graduation rates. The following are appended: (1) SRA Performance Tasks; (2) Methodological Details on Sampling Strategy for the Three District Cohort Analyses; (3) Summary Literature Review on the Impact of High Stakes Testing on Secondary Schools and Students; (4) The Individual and Social Costs of High School Dropout Rates; (5) The GED Alternative; and (6) Finding Common Ground on New Jersey Secondary Reform. A bibliography is included. [Support for this report was providing by the Schumann Fund for New Jersey.]
Education Law Center. 60 Park Place Suite 300, Newark, NJ 07102. Tel: 973-624-1815; Fax: 973-624-7339; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Education Law Center
Identifiers - Location: New Jersey