By Lauren Wanko
“I’m not surprised. It’s certainly disappointing,” said Peter Tirri, president of the Paterson Education Association.
A report released by the Paterson School District shows 19 of the 594 students who took the SATS this year had scores that met “college-ready standards,” set by The College Board. The SAT College and Career Readiness Benchmark score is 1550.
“The system isn’t prepared to do the kinds of things that have to be done,” Tirri said. When asked what he meant by that, Tirri said, “Well I was on the Board of Ed for 20 years. Back then the SAT was a standard course. We don’t have any of that.”
“We need to do a whole lot and we need to do it fast and we have to be mindful of the history of Paterson Public Schools,” said Rosie Grant, executive director of the Paterson Education Fund.
The Paterson Public Schools spokesperson was unavailable for an on-camera interview but tells NJTV News, “Our district SAT scores are basically flat year over year, which is consistent with national trends,” adding, “We certainly want to improve these scores and to that end the district will begin SAT prep classes very soon.”
Tirri says he agrees that SAT courses are needed but he doesn’t want the administration to rush into anything and research schools that have programs — both urban and suburban schools districts.
“You want to see what Franklin Lakes and Princeton and what they’re doing and have some idea where we’re go from there,” Tirri said.
But it’s not all about SAT prep classes, insists Tirri.
“We have to get out of state control. I know that doesn’t seem to correlate, but it is because the distract can’t do anything without state approval,” he said.
Tirri says there’s lots of other factors to blame. Among other things, frequent staff changes in the district.
The Paterson Public Schools spokesperson says, “SAT scores are just one gauge of ‘college-readiness.’ There are many factors that play into ‘college readiness’ and we are working towards addressing these other areas.” She points to the district’s focus on HSPA exam prep, the district’s career-themed academies and other programs. Grant thinks the district is headed in the right direction.
“However, these kids have been in a system that has not properly provided for them, so it’s gonna take some time,” Grant said.
The Paterson School District’s mean SAT score was 1120. The state’s public school mean: 1526
The Paterson Education Fund insists increasing SAT scores is a community effort and they plan to increase efforts to make education an issue within the community.