Office of the SuperintendentPaterson Public Schools

Office of the Superintendent

Dr. Evans' Message
March 2011

High School Choice

In the Paterson Public School District, our mission is to prepare every student for success in the institution of higher education of their choosing and in his or her chosen career.  We put this mission into action two years ago when we began our High School Renewal Initiative to address significant issues related to student achievement at the high school level.  Through this initiative, we have engaged an advisory committee of over 70 staff and community members.  We also surveyed our 8th grade and high school students to learn more about their specific areas of interest; and we have continued to work with our Board of Education for important guidance regarding any “next steps”.

With the district’s poor test scores, dismal graduation rates, and high drop-out rates, it has been clear that maintaining the status quo is no longer an acceptable option.   Research has shown that when students follow chosen paths of interest (e.g. science or performing arts), they become more engaged in their learning and are more likely to stay in school. In fact, school choice has been a proven school improvement strategy.   Additionally, by restructuring our high schools, there are numerous advantages to enrolling in small learning communities.  These advantages include smaller class sizes, a more personalized academic experience, safer school communities, and the opportunity for closer relationships with teachers and classmates. 

This is why I am extremely pleased to announce that now, for the first time, all of our school district’s high schools will be choice schools.  This means every 8th grade or newly entering student can choose from 12 school thematic programs – at any district high school – for the upcoming 2011/2012 school year.  Our high school choice options vary from engineering to teaching; healthcare to science.  By offering 12 options – where the student will select his or her 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice – we will achieve overall improvements in student outcomes and will witness more of our students graduating and attending college.  

This is clearly big news for our district; yet our work is not done.  Still, we are confident that by restructuring our high schools and by offering a choice of thematic programs, we have taken another important step toward preparing our students for a great future.

Thank you for your continued support.

Donnie W. Evans, Ed.D.
State District Superintendent
Paterson Public Schools

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