High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA)

The High School Proficiency Assessment (abbreviated HSPA and pronounced "hes-pah" or sometimes just "H-S-P-A") is a standardized test administered by the New Jersey Department of Education to all New Jersey high school students in March of their 11th grade year. Together with the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge (NJ ASK) administered in grades 3-7 and the Grade Eight Proficiency Assessment (GEPA) given to students in eighth grade, 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 reading, writing, and mathematics. 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 12th grade (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. However, beginning with the Class of 2009 for Language Arts and the Class of 2012 for Mathematics, the SRA is being abolished.

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 1993, was originally called the High School Proficiency Test (abbreviated as HSPT or HSPT11) until its name was changed 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.