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new jersey department of environmental protection  


Living with the Future in Mind
Goals and Indicators for New Jersey's Quality of Life
First Annual Update to the Sustainable State Project Report 2000

Indicator 13

Additional  Quality Education Indicators

14 - Student/Teacher Ratio

15 - Standardized Test Scores

16 - Higher Education

Graduation Rates

Percentage of New Jersey's students who graduate within four years of entering high school: Recently decreasing

  Things to think about 

High school graduates have a significantly lower unemployment rate than non-graduates.

Districts such as Trenton and Newark have been offering special night high school programs to help students achieve the credits required for graduation or to prepare them for taking the Graduate Equivalency Degree (GED).

In 1999, over 5,000 people completed the requirements for a GED.




Education correlates strongly with future economic and social well-being for everyone. The higher the education level of the state’s population, the more robust the state’s economy and the greater the economic opportunities for residents. Education is also a critical way that we transmit our values, culture, and shared experience. A high school diploma is a passport to the benefits of American society.


Without a degree, young people face a difficult battle in the labor market today and lack opportunities for advancement tomorrow. Education makes people employable and competitive. It also makes them rich in knowledge and experience. For economic development to take place, we need capable, educated workers.


Environmental education helps us to make scientifically informed decisions, rather than choices based solely on emotion. Such learning is the foundation of future decisions that will conserve our resources and allow us to live well. Tomorrow’s graduates will soon face the task of reducing the burden that we put on nature today.


Education is central to developing future leaders and effective participants in our state’s civil society. People who drop out of school are not qualified for many important kinds of work or future opportunities, and they are less capable of leading us toward the kind of future we want. This is especially worrisome in urban areas with the highest dropout rates. This is where thoughtful leadership and strong communities are most needed.

Knowledge Gaps

Graduation rates do not tell us about the quality of the education each student received. Furthermore, graduation rates do not tell us whether these young people are responsible citizens, are healthy, or have a fundamental understanding of important issues and of how the world works. The Department of Education is evaluating potential factors contributing to the recent decline in graduation rates. In particular, the Department is studying the correlation between the decline in graduation rates and the parallel reduction in the dropout rate, especially in the state’s special needs districts. Schools are reporting that more students are staying in school through their senior year, but are failing to earn the credits necessary to graduate at the end of four years.

Data Source: NJ Department of Education

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Copyright © State of New Jersey, 1996-2006
Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Modified: April 27, 2007

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