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CPRE : Consortium for Policy Research in Education

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Case Study

Highland Avenue School Linden, NJ

The Highland Avenue School in Linden, New Jersey has had to overcome numerous obstacles in its quest to develop a rigorous, innovative science program. The school has been in a 10-year partnership with the Merck Institute for Science Education (MISE) to improve the science program. During that time, enrollment has increased by 25%, filling the school to capacity and using all available space. At the district office, the superintendent, science and mathematics supervisors, and other key administrators have changed. The school has had three principals in the past three years. Following a wave of teacher retirements, the more seasoned, veteran faculty have slowly found themselves outnumbered by new hires. Yet, despite these obstacles, Highland Avenue has managed to transform its science program from a textbookbased approach to one rooted in real-life science.

Linden is a diverse, blue-collar community located along the main northsouth railways and highways in northern New Jersey. The town has a long history of immigration with different minority populations moving in as workers, seeking a more suburban lifestyle than can be typically found in nearby port-ofentry cities like Newark. The town has 39,000 residents, of which approximately 34% are minority groups. Linden boasts a busy downtown core with small stores and restaurants, rimmed by strip malls and fast food restaurants along major roads, a small municipal airport, and several large industrial facilities such as Exxon refineries, Bellcore labs, a General Motors plant, and Merck. One part of town consists of well-kept single-family homes on small lots; conditions in other parts of town are more crowded. The citizens of Linden represent a wide range of the economic spectrum with a median household income of $46,345.

Publication Date

March 2003