The High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA) is a standardized test administered by the New Jersey Department of Education to all New Jersey high school students in March of their junior year. Together with the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJ ASK) administered in grades 3-8, the HSPA is part of a battery of tests used to assess student performance in New Jersey's public schools.
The HSPA is administered over a course of three days simultaneously in all high schools throughout the state of New Jersey. The exam tests students' proficiency in a variety of academic subjects including mathematics and language arts literacy. State law in New Jersey requires that all students pass the HSPA for high school graduation.
Students who do not pass the exam on their first try have two opportunities to retake it during their senior (and final) year. Additionally, for those who are still unable to pass the exam or feel that they are "not good test-takers," the state department of education gives students the option of participating in a "Special Review Assessment process" (SRA) to demonstrate their academic abilities.
Before the test, chief school administrators, principals, and guidance counselors stress the importance of the test and make it clear that students should pass the exam on the first try. By doing so, they could focus on the future. Without any need for remedial classes, they have more opportunities for electives.
The exam, first administered in 1989, was originally called the High School Proficiency Test (abbreviated as HSPT) and was taken during the freshmen year. If the examination was failed, it could be taken each year until it was passed. In 1993, only students who were in eleventh (Grade 11) were allowed to take the exam and the name was changed to HSPT-11 to reflect the change in 2001.
Alternate Proficiency Assessment (APA) is a portfolio-based assessment method used to measure academic progress for students with severe disabilities who are unable to participate in the standardized assessment tests. The APA is given to a student in each content area where the student's disability is so severe that the student is not receiving instruction in the skill being measured and the student cannot complete any of the types of questions on the assessment in a content area even with appropriate changes and accommodations.