September 7, 2017

¬CCSP’s Progress The Community Charter School of Paterson (CCSP), which was created by NJCDC in 2008, was, at one time, a struggling school. Simply put, the rigor of instruction was not meeting the expectations of its students, their families, its Board of Trustees, or NJCDC, which founded CCSP.

The school is, however, in the midst of a turnaround. According to NJDOE's most recent Tier rankings, CCSP is just a point away from reaching Tier 1, designating high performing charter schools. Between 2015 and 2017, CCSP increased its PARCC scores by 9.8% in Math and 11.4% in English Language Arts. PARCC scores are an important measure of how students are progressing toward meeting grade-level expectations and mastering important skills.

CCSP’s Progress This critical increase in student performance is the result of CCSP's dedicated staff, dramatic changes including identifying high quality programs, and the flexibility afforded to charter schools to innovate. CCSP's former CEO Mark Valli, who left the post last month, said, "CCSP's success is the result of a lot of hard work by CCSP staff and the direct result of public policy decisions made at the Federal and State levels that allow charter schools the flexibility to innovate, monitor/evaluate, adapt, and adjust to ensure students are reaching their true potential. Having the flexibility and autonomy that our charter provides allows us to ask, 'If our scholars are not achieving at the highest levels, what are we doing about it?' This truly represents a radical departure from how the questions about underperforming students were addressed prior to the creation of charter schools."

CCSP’s ProgressOver the last few years, CCSP has moved to more rigorous, evidence-based curricula, including Columbia University's Teachers College's Reader's and Writer's Workshops. The Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation generously funded the purchase of this program, its units of study, as well as the corresponding teacher training. In addition, after noticing that students' knowledge and understanding of phonics were weak, the school added the FUNdations program, which lays the groundwork for life-long literacy. These changes have helped provide CCSP with a much more rigorous English Language Arts program.

In addition, to combat the fact that CCSP's students were lagging behind in math, the school moved to Singapore Math, which emphasizes higher order thinking, using the Math in Focus program and investing in teacher training and materials. CCSP also added a number of cutting-edge math intervention programs.

Other changes CCSP has made over the last few years include changing the schedule, departmentalizing its elementary school classes, reducing the sizes of its fourth grade classes, adding classroom coaches, and adding two new Dean of Student Culture positions, which allowed the Building Leaders to focus entirely on rigorous and engaging classroom instruction.

Reflecting on the last few years, Mark Valli said, "Charter schools allow flexibility—without layers of bureaucracy—to adapt and innovate. Unlike traditional public schools, charter schools can be shut down for low performance standards. They almost require innovation and changes to succeed, and these changes are working at CCSP. We're proud that we're living up to the spirit of what the Charter School Program Act was created to do, and we're proof that charters work."

Bob Guarasci, NJCDC's CEO and lead founder of CCSP, lauded the school's new ranking. "CCSP is, without doubt, an invaluable resource for students and parents in Paterson and the local neighborhood," he said. "The recently released rankings by the State demonstrate that everyone's hard work is paying off, and that the School's future is bright."

It's been an exciting year for CCSP. Back in March, the school's charter was renewed for five more years. CCSP also recently welcomed Curtis Palmore as its new CEO.

Support Our Work!
We at NJCDC are keenly aware of the challenging economic times. 93 cents of every dollar donated to NJCDC goes directly to programs which help families, teens, children and people with disabilities.