PATERSON, NJ – Students who stay with College Achieve Paterson Charter school for more than a year experience sharp increases in reading and math, preliminary state test scores released to New Jersey schools reveal. The College Achieve Paterson Charter School attributes the strong outcomes to a robust academic program that emphasizes critical thinking and writing. 

“In less than two years, we’re moving scholars from the bottom to the middle and seeing statistically significant growth in students that are meeting state expectations. Scholars entering our school in fifth grade are exiting school districts that have failed them consecutively for four years in a row.  These results are a big deal,” said Dr. Gemar Mills, Executive Director and Co-Founder of College Achieve Paterson Charter School. “Many of our students come to us below grade level. These results prove that a rigorous academic model coupled with great teachers allows all students to thrive and puts them on the path toward college graduation. When families stay with the model, they will meet and exceed grade-level standards within a few years.” 

Enrollment at the Paterson school is steadily rising: The school has grown from 276 to 720 students from its opening in 2017—and the waiting list is at 645, fueled by strong and positive word-of-mouth in the community. 

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The preliminary test results reveal the College Achieve model is working. The same group of students who took the reading test in fifth grade last year and the sixth grade this year experienced a 55 percent increase in the number of students who are “approaching, meeting or exceeding” the state’s reading benchmarks. This means that over 80% of our sixth graders scored approaching, meeting, or exceeding on the NJSLA. 

The growth in math was equally impressive. This year, 52 percent of seventh-graders approach, meet and exceed the math standards—up from 25 percent among the same group of students last year. 

“This year’s test scores prove what we’ve known to be true: when our teachers collectively, across the curriculum and grade levels, implement our instructional model, our students excel,” said Michael Piscal, Founder and CEO of College Achieve Public Schools. “We will fulfill our promise to families of closing the achievement gap, and our students will be prepared to successfully graduate from college.”

The results also reveal that while many New Jersey schools continue to struggle to address the large gap in academic performance between students of color and their white peers, College Achieve Paterson Charter is setting itself apart by making significant strides each year toward closing that gap. About 32 percent of the school’s students are African American and 68 percent are Latino.

The state is expected to release in October statewide data on the New Jersey Student Learning Assessments (NJSLA), which is administered each year in every public school in the state.

College Achieve’s mission is to prepare its students to excel in and graduate from the top colleges and universities in the nation. To accomplish this mission, College Achieve Paterson offers a rigorous and innovative education program. 

To get students on a path to graduating high school and college, College Achieve Paterson more than doubles the amount of time devoted to science instruction, placing students starting in kindergarten in labs where they run their own science experiments. Students study science 5.4 hours a week—well above the national average of 2.2 hours in K-6 schools—resulting in 115 additional hours of science instruction each year. 

The College Achieve curriculum is rooted in the Toulmin College Writing Model, a program increasingly embraced by many of the highest performing high schools in the nation, that challenges students to find their own point of view, and then develop arguments to defend their claims with evidence and logic. The writing model is a thinking model - and it is applied to every core discipline, including science and math. This high-level critical thinking and writing program requires students to read, understand, and engage deeply with issues prior to making an argument. This approach will help ensure that 100 percent of College Achieve students are prepared to write an “A” paper in college. 


College Achieve Public Schools

College Achieve Public Schools (CAPS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing all students with the best of what we know about education. CAPS mission is to prepare its students to excel in and graduate from the top colleges and universities in the nation. CAPS currently operates seven campuses and schools in Plainfield, North Plainfield, Paterson, Asbury Park and Neptune, NJ serving over 2,250 students. To learn more, go to