Vincent Andre Keeton, PhD
Vincent Andre Keeton, PhD

Urban Education


Work Position
Assistant Professor, Department of Criminal Justice, LaGuardia, Community College

Date passed dissertation defense
November 30, 2009


Vincent André Keeton holds a PhD from Rutgers University in Urban Systems with a minor in Criminal Justice. He received his B.A. in history and Spanish at The University of Texas at Austin, and completed his Master of Public Affairs and Doctor of Jurisprudence concurrently at The University of Texas at Austin.  Dr. Keeton has held teaching responsibilities at the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice (SCJ), Rutgers-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) and research responsibilities with the Newark Schools Research Consortium. He has developed curricula for and taught various courses at Rutgers including: Constitutional Law, Constitutional Law in Criminal Justice, Gender Crime and Justice, Case Processing, Criminology, Ethical and Philosophical Foundations as well as School Law and Public Policy. In addition he developed the curriculum for and directed the Pre-College Academy of Law and Criminal Justice; a joint venture between the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers-Newark EOF, and University High School, Newark, New Jersey.  He has guest visited at Eugene Lang-College of Liberal Arts at The New School, NYC.

His research interests are in educational assessment, academic achievement, achievement gaps, educational and constitutional law and crimininogenic outcomes and education.  He has authored several papers and reports including a co-authored a policy brief entitled “New Jersey's Special Review Assessment: Loophole or Lifeline?” (2007) and “New Jersey's Special Review Assessment (SRA): An Examination of the Post Secondary Outcome of Newark High School Graduates 2003-2008” (2011).  A member of the New York State Bar, his professional career includes practicing law for the District Attorney-Bronx County, New York City, from 1998-2005, where he primarily prosecuted cases for the Sex Crimes and Narcotics Bureaus.  Dr. Keeton is currently conducting research about differential academic assessment and post-secondary outcomes.  Dr. Keeton is currently an Asst. Professor of Criminal Justice with City University of New York with teaching responsibilities primarily at LaGuardia College/CUNY.

Title of the Dissertation

An Analysis of the Effects of Traditional Versus Alternative Educational Assessment Programs on Student Attitudes and Post Secondary Outcomes

Proposal or Dissertation Abstract

Student assessment, or the measuring of what students have learned, determines retention, promotion and graduation.  It would not be hyperbolic to state that success on any given assessment, but particularly year-end high stakes state mandated assessments, has a significant if not determinative effect on the trajectory of a student’s life.  Students faring well on the required assessments are promoted and kept on track towards graduation and often rich and fulfilling secondary and post secondary educational experiences.  Those students failing to meet pre-determined standards are at best retained and at worst become drop outs.  This dissertation examines the effects different types of assessments play on the post secondary lives of students graduating high school in Newark, New Jersey.  It is grounded in theories dealing with the impact of graduating via high-stakes versus alternative assessments programs.  Analyzing two quantitative databases (one composed of multiple merged databases covering 10,000 students and five academic years, and a survey database composed of Likert style and multiple choice questions administered to almost 500 students ) this study examines the question as to whether or not there are differences in post secondary outcomes, perceptions and attitudes of those students graduating via the state mandated high stakes HSPA (High School Proficiency Assessment) examination or the alternative SRA (Special Review Assessment) examination.
            Bivariate and multivariate analysis are used to test multiple hypotheses seeking to measure differences based on race/ethnicity, sex, high school type and economic disadvantage in the context of assessment type (SRA vs. HSPA) and post secondary outcomes.  Bivariate analysis found that blacks and Latinos graduate more often via the SRA than whites.  Additionally, though comprising a majority of the sample and a majority within each assessment type, women graduate via the HSPA assessment program slightly more often than men; though the majority of both males and females graduated via the SRA assessment. The data indicate that magnet school students disproportionately graduate more often via the HSPA than traditional neighborhood comprehensives, and economically disadvantaged blacks and Latinos graduate disproportionately via the SRA.  Additionally, HSPA graduates attend college at substantially greater rates than do SRA graduates.  Additionally, SRA graduates are more likely to attend 2-year community colleges compared to HSPA graduates, more likely to attend public schools than private schools, and are more likely to attend vocational/technical schools than HSPA graduates.  Multivariate analysis found that, controlling for other factors, women are more likely to go on to post-secondary study as compared to men, blacks are more likely to go on to post-secondary study as compared to whites and Hispanic/Latinos, women, blacks and Hispanic/Latinos are more likely to graduate SRA than whites and HSPA graduates and magnet school graduates are more likely to go on to post secondary study and are more likely to attend 4-year colleges/universities than SRA graduates.
            The study also indicates that a significant majority of students graduate via the SRA as compared to the HSPA.  The study also found that a significant percentage of SRA students persist to go on to post secondary study at substantial though lesser rates than the HSPA.  The study lastly found that both HSPA and SRA graduates now attending college felt adequately assessed, adequately prepared, and definite in their chosen fields of study.

In New Jersey many educators and policy makers continue to call for elimination of the SRA as an alternative pathway to high school graduation. As a majority of urban “Abbott District” graduates exit high school via the SRA, this study provides evidence to argue against such a policy direction. Rather than supporting the belief that a single means of graduation would result in educational equity, this study suggests that eliminating the SRA would result in many students dropping out. Given that almost half of the SRA graduates studied here attended some form of postsecondary educational institution and a significant number persisted, sound policy dictates that the assessment be strengthened, not eliminated.

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