Scores show small steps taken forward

Naugatuck and Region 16 students in grades three through eight followed their peers across the state in making small gains in English language arts and math.

The Connecticut Department of Education last month released scores from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test, which was administered to students in grades three through eight. The Smarter Balanced test, which had been developed for a group of states adopting the new Common Core State Standards, was given to students in the 2014-15 school year to set a baseline for scores. Previously, students took the Connecticut Mastery Test.

Scores from the 2015-16 test showed an overall increase in the percentage of students that met or exceeded the achievement standard statewide. Statewide, 55.7 percent of students met or exceeded the standard, an increase of 3.3 percentage points, in English. In math, 44 percent met or exceeded the achievement level, up 3.9 points, across the state.

That trend was seen locally, too.

Overall, 48.2 percent of Naugatuck students and 64.4 percent of students in Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, met or exceeded the target in English. The scores were up 2.5 points in Naugatuck and 7.9 points in Region 16.

In math, 32.2 percent of Naugatuck students, an increase of 2.6 points, and 53.7 percent of Region 16 students, an increase of 7.6 points, met or exceeded the standard overall.

“With our focus on improving math learning last year we were very pleased to see our math scores increase by 2.6 percentage points in grades three through eight and very pleased with our third-grade results,”  Naugatuck Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke said.

The percentage of Naugatuck third-graders at or above the standard in math increased 10.8 points to 54 percent.

Region 16 Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin said the region is pleased with the growth students made, adding the district moved up to the top third of its District Reference Group — a classification system that groups school districts together based on comparable socioeconomic factors.

Despite the growth made, Yamin said, officials are still disappointed in the region’s math scores. He said a task force has been formed to explore what can be done to increase math achievement.

Math scores are also an issue on the SAT, which is given to 11th-graders. Last school year marked the first time Connecticut used the SAT as its mandated test to measure achievement for high schools statewide. Math scores on the SAT locally and across the state lagged well below English scores.

Locally, younger students led the way on the Smarter Balanced test with the exception of English in Naugatuck.

“We are confident that our youngest learners are developing deep conceptual understanding in math and over time will see our math results increase.  Our work will continue this year with math learning and we will be paying particular attention to our middle level students who underperformed the district average in math,” Locke said.

Naugatuck’s math scores ranged from a high of 54 percent of third-graders at or above the standard to a low of 15.4 percent of eighth-graders. In English, the scores ranged from 51.3 percent of seventh-graders meeting or exceeding the achievement level to 44.8 percent of eighth-graders doing so.

In Region 16, 79.9 percent of third-graders met or exceeded the standard in math, while 75.3 percent did so in English. Eighth-graders scored the lowest in Region 16 on math with 41.4 percent meeting or exceeding the standard. In English, seventh-graders had the lowest score with 54.7 percent at or above the achievement level.

Over the last three years, Region 16 has implemented new curriculum and a phonics program at the elementary level, and the scores are starting to reflect that effort, Yamin said. The hope is that the higher scores will continue as the younger students progress through the region.

“We’re hoping that year after year scores will grow in grades K through eight,” Yamin said.

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