Schools get scores under new system

Local school officials are still adjusting to the state’s Next Generation Accountability System.

“As we learn about it there are parts about it that I really like and find informative, and there are parts about it that we just need to still keep digging deeper on,” Naugatuck Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke said last week.

The state recently released the 2015-16 results of the Next Generation Accountability System.

The system, which has been in place for two years, measures how schools and districts are performing based on 12 indicators, including the performance of students in grades three through eighth on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test, academic growth, chronic absenteeism, four-year and six-year graduation rates, post-secondary entrance rates, physical fitness and access to arts.

According to the state Department of Education, the purpose of the accountability report includes tracking student progress, helping schools and districts identify where improvements and support are most needed, and recognizing successes.

The state’s average accountability index score was 73.1 for 2015-16. Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, scored 78.8, while Naugatuck’s overall score was 68.1.

The scores for Naugatuck and Region 16, like many districts across the state, dropped from 2014-15. Naugatuck’s overall score was 70 in 2014-15, while Region 16’s score was 83.

Despite dropping overall, Region 16 outperformed the state average in every indicator expect for the math average percentage of growth target achieved for all students. The district scored a 63.1 compared to the state average of 65.

“I think we did fairly well,” Region 16 Superintendent of School Michael Yamin said last week.

With that said, Yamin continued, he doesn’t like that the results compare how high school students did on the SBAC in 2014-15 with their results on the SAT in 2015-16. The state last year made the SAT the standard for which high school students are measured by.

Yamin added he also doesn’t like how much influence “at-risk” students, which is a small group for the region, has on scores.

“There’s always room for improvement,” Yamin said about the district’s scores. “At least now, we have targets and indicators that we can put into our district strategic plan.”

Naugatuck students outperformed the state average in three indicators: English language arts for high needs students, the ELA average percentage of growth target achieved for all students, and the ELA average percentage of growth target achieved for high needs students.

Locke said she’s happy to see the state including growth in its measurement system and was excited by the district’s growth scores in ELA.

“Overall I think it is a move in the right direction,” said Locke about the Next Generation Accountability System. “I like that they are identifying achievement gaps for all districts. It used to be you had to have 20 or more kids in a subgroup. Now they put the subgroups together so they are able to identify places that have achievement gaps that didn’t used to have achievement gaps identified, even though they existed. So, I think that’s good.

“In terms of our overall performance, we need to do better. That’s what we do every day; figure out how do we get more kids performing where they need to, how do we grow every single kid, how do we get kids ready for college and career. All of these things we do every single day. So it is a good snapshot, although we haven’t dug extremely deep into it yet.”

Luke Marshall and the Republican-American contributed to this article.