PATERSON – “There’s still a lot of work to do,” declared State Schools Superintendent Eileen F. Shafer at her Superintendent’s Institute for district administrators at Passaic County Community College this week. However, she said, when it comes to attendance, standardized test scores, and the graduation rate things are trending in the right direction.

Of the nine grades that take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PAARC) exam, six showed improvement in math and eight showed improvement in language arts and literacy, according to data released by the state.

“This is growth, right here,” Shafer said as she displayed a presentation slide giving credit to the administrators in the room. “you put a lot of time, a lot of energy, and a lot of work in making this happen.”

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Additionally, Schafer added, after the first year of having a campaign and “really focusing” on chronic absenteeism, half of the district’s elementary schools and one third of its high schools improved their rates of student attendance from the 2016-2017 school year to the 2017-2018 school year.

“I think we really put a dent into it. Everyone is pushing as we continue to improve attendance. But we can’t let our guard down.” Included in this continued effort to make sure students are in the classroom is the initiative to hire 17 chronic absentee specialists for the new school year.

Shafer also noted that the district’s high school graduation rate increased 42 percent from 2009 to 2017 to reach 87 percent.

“This is a lot of hard work by a lot of people and I’m very appreciative of that,” Shafer said. Noting also that the district’s high school graduation rate has increased from 42 percent in 2009 to 87 percent in 2017. “Once you get that high, it’s hard to keep it up there so we’ve got to work even harder.”

Paterson School Board President Oshin Castillo said the data indicated that the Paterson Public Schools district is heading in the right direction as it anticipates moving to local control in the year 2020.

“We recognize that there is much work that still has to be done,” Castillo said. “But we applaud Superintendent Shafer, her administration and all of the district’s educators for taking these great steps forward.”