Paterson HistoryPaterson Public Schools

District Backgrounder

Paterson Great FallsGuided by the principle of “Preparing All Children for College and Career,” the Paterson Public Schools District is working to draw out the true potential within every student to become life-long learners and 21st-century leaders in their communities, their nation, and the world. With more than 40 languages spoken in its classrooms, Paterson Public Schools are among the most diverse in the state. . The 2018-19 kindergarten to 12th grade enrollment is 24,151 students in grades kindergarten through 12 and an additional 683 pre-kindergarten students. Another 2,888 pre-kindergarten students are educated through partnerships with pre-kindergarten community providers.
The Paterson Public Schools District has been under state control since 1991. On May 2, 2018, the New Jersey Board of Education approved a resolution to put the district on a path to local control. On September 5, 2018 the Paterson Public Schools district received the state’s two-year transition plan that lays out the terms and conditions for the return of the district to local control. If the district meets all of the expectations in the two-year plan, the state education commissioner will recommend the complete withdrawal of state intervention with the district in 2020.
With the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) in place, all Paterson students are eligible to receive breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack at no cost to them. Nearly 3,483 students receive special education services and more than 5,161 students are English Language Learners (ELL) who receive bilingual/ESL services.
The student population in the Paterson district mirrors the trend of urban communities across the nation and in New Jersey. About 67.7 percent of its students are of Hispanic origin, 21.8 percent are African-American, 4.9 percent are Caucasian, 5.7 percent are of Asian descent, and five percent are Caucasian. Nearly 57 percent of all students in Paterson speak a primary language other than English, with more than 40 languages spoken in district schools.  The rich diversity in the school district is an asset as it enables students to learn firsthand about other cultures and develop an appreciation for similarities and differences as they prepare for success in a multicultural world.
Since 2009, the Paterson Public School District has been engaged in a major effort to improve student achievement at both the elementary and secondary levels. During the 2009-2010 school year, the district developed an ambitious five-year Strategic Plan, called Bright Futures, for transforming itself into a high performing urban school system. After completing the Bright Futures plan, the district developed a follow-up plan for the 2014-2019 timeframe, and its goals continue to be focused on the same top priorities.
More recently, the district has been embarking on a number of groundbreaking initiatives to provide more opportunities for students to achieve academic excellence. Among those initiatives are the institution of an International Baccalaureate program, a campaign to combat chronic absenteeism, and an aggressive K-5 reading program.


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