PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — This month, the first class to go through the Achievement First Providence Mayoral Academy Middle School will be starting the school year with a class of fifth graders, on the way to growing to grades 5-8. This year’s fifth graders will be the first to graduate from the middle school.

Achievement First, the Connecticut-based nonprofit operating the charter middle school and its two companion charter elementary schools, was approved last winter to more than quadruple in size over the next decade.

“We’re really grateful to the state for approving our expansion plan,” said Elizabeth Winangun, the schools’ director of external relations. The middle school is third in a series of up to seven schools approved in the expansion plan by the state Council on Elementary and Secondary Education.

Right now, the three Achievement First schools – the Providence Mayoral Academy Middle School, Providence Mayoral Academy Elementary School, and Illuminar Mayoral Academy Elementary School – all share one building on Hartford Avenue (the former Perry Middle School). Winangun said the organization hopes to open a high school for their students entering middle school in the next three years.

The Achievement First schools say they stand out from others with a program that, in middle school, includes advanced online learning and field work similar to internships.

“Students are really allowed to go deeper into the subject areas that interest them most, and develop passions and interests at an earlier stage of life, so that by the time they’re going towards high school they really know what they’re most interested in, what they’re most passionate about, and they can really develop their interests as they move towards college,” said Winangun.

Winangun said yet another K-8 school has been approved, but there’s no word when they’ll start planning for it.