For Release: September 4, 2003
2003-04 School Year Promises More Alternatives for High School Seniors with the 12th Grade Option Pilot Program; Opportunities Abound for Last Year of School
As part of a continued emphasis on creating, maintaining and encouraging diverse and multiple paths for student success, the Department of Education (DOE) will continue assisting schools that have agreed to participate in the 12th Grade Option Pilot Program in the coming 2003-2004 school year.
Supported by the Gov. James E. McGreevey Administration, the 12th Grade Option Pilot Program is an initiative that was created to help eligible students utilize their last year of high school to gain purposeful experiences that will help them get on track to their futures.
"The 12th Grade Option program is designed to enhance the educational experience of high school seniors who have completed their high school graduation requirements and passed the high school proficiency assessment (HSPA)," said Commissioner of Education William L. Librera. "This initiative focuses on promoting the Departments goal of providing leadership by creating superior opportunities for New Jerseys children through multiple and diverse paths and programs."
Past initiatives incorporating this theme have been well-intentioned, Librera said, but didnt take the integrative approach that the DOE is now implementing, which involves participation by high schools and colleges, businesses and the larger community.
The initiative was launched this past May at the State Museum in Trenton by Commissioner Librera and several other DOE officials, along with keynote speaker Harold Levy, former chancellor of New York City Schools.
The DOE had originally hoped for one pilot program in each of the states 21 counties. The number of current proposals before the DOE is more than double what was originally hoped for.
Schools participating in the 12th Grade Option Program encourage eligible students to take advantage of activities to enhance the experience of the senior year, rather than succumb to the infamous "senioritis" that has been known to set in once students have completed required coursework or been accepted to college.
"This program is guaranteed to fulfill the DOEs most important objectives, because it opens up options to seniors rather than restricting them to the same programs despite their separate goals and interests," said Judith Weiss, Assistant Commissioner for the Northern Region.
Regional DOE officials, stationed in the northern, central and southern regions of the state, organize meetings of the schools in their district and serve as resources to share different successful senior year option initiatives.
DOE regional offices are able to provide guidelines for schools interested in expanding their senior year alternatives based partly on current programs. Programs can be approved for individual schools by local boards of education, and then filed with the DOE through the regional offices.
Some of the most popular programs include:
Examples of successful senior-year programs shared through the pilot program include, but are not limited to:
Many high schools are using this inauguration year of the 12th Grade Option Program to begin new initiatives or expand their current options for seniors. For instance, Mainland Regional High School in Atlantic County is beginning its limited senior year options program this year, according to school Principal Dr. Robert Blake.
For the first time this year, Mainland has one student participating in a program in conjunction with the Clarkson School, which admits high school seniors early for dual enrollment, allowing them to earn high school credit while taking college courses.
"We are looking to expand Mainlands program on a student-to-student basis," said Dr. Blake. "We are seeing what students are interested in and what will be most effective and worthwhile for the students. Some of the things we are looking into are programs with Atlantic County Community College and Richard Stockton College. I see a lot of avenues we can go down for the students."
Schools involved in the pilot project are coordinated by the DOE regional offices. A school interested in joining the pilot can attend regional meetings and file paperwork for a program with the appropriate regional office.
For more information, please contact the Department of Education Public Information Office at (609) 292-1126.