Naugatuck, Region 16 test scores pleasing so far

Woodland Regional High School

Though local school officials have yet to delve deep into area students’ scores on Connecticut’s standardized tests, their initial reaction to the mixed results was a positive one.

“Overall, we’re pleased,” Naugatuck Assistant Superintendent of Schools Brigitte Crispino said. “There were some gains and there were some drops, as it is every year, because the tests assess different groups of students.”

A general overview of the scores in Region 16 has administrators happy as well.

“We’re continuing our upward trend,” Region 16 Superintendent of Schools James Agostine said. “We’re very pleased.”

The state recently released the results of the 2011 Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT). The CMT is given to students in grades five through eight and tests them in math, reading, and writing. Fifth- and eighth- graders are also tested in science. The CAPT is administered to sophomores, who are tested in math, reading, writing, and science.

The test scores are used by the state to measure Connecticut’s progress under the federal No Child Left Behind act.

Students’ scores are measured on a five-tier scale, ranging from below basic to advanced. However, it is the percentage of students at or above proficiency, the third tier of the scale, which is used to measure “Adequate Yearly Progress,” or AYP under No Child Left Behind.

The scores from each grade level are compared to the previous year’s class, and this year’s results show a mix of improvements and steps back in Region 16 and Naugatuck.

Naugatuck fifth- and sixth-graders improved across the board at the proficiency level, while the scores of seventh- and eighth-graders dropped in each subject.

Crispino said since this past year was the first one in which all borough seventh- and eighth-graders attended one school, City Hill Middle School, the results have to be looked at differently.

“You can’t look at it the same way that you looked at it the previous year,” she said.

In Region 16, the percentage of eighth-graders proficient in each subject rose across the board, with nearly 90 percent or more reaching the proficient mark in each subject.

No one grade fell across the board in Region 16, as the scores for grades three through seven were a combination of gains and loses, with none below 84 percent proficient.

While the results of the CMT were mixed, CAPT scores were not.

CAPT scores for Naugatuck and Region 16 improved in every subject at the proficiency level.

Agostine said he is contented with the gains made by Region 16 students on the CAPT, and Crispino pointed to the CAPT scores as evidence as to how students who stay in the Naugatuck school system improve over time.

While test scores are compared to previous years, Crispino said Naugatuck focuses on “matched cohorts,” following the progress of the same student over time. She said analysis of matched cohorts show that the longer students stay within the Naugatuck school system the more successful they are.

Success on the CAPT isn’t the only aspect of the results Naugatuck and Region 16 have in common. An achievement gap between economically disadvantaged students and wealthier students exists in both districts.

Economically disadvantaged students are lagging behind their peers in all subjects in both districts.

Agostine said Region 16 has been targeting those students, as well as the special education population, for tutoring and afterschool programs to help close the gap.

Aside from the economically disadvantaged gap, a racial divide is also evident in Naugatuck schools.

Black and Latino students continue to lag behind their white peers in the borough, although Latino students have made some gains outscoring white students in a handful of instances on the 2011 test.

Crispino said the district’s goal continues to be reducing the achievement gap.

“That is something each school focuses on,” she said.

How the district’s stacked up this year as far as AYP is concerned remains to be seen. Schools and districts that don’t meet AYP each year are labeled as “in need of improvement” under No Child Left Behind and face various repercussions. A school can make the list if one sub-group, such as special education or a minority group, fails to meet AYP.

Several Naugatuck schools were on the “in need of improvement list” last year, including the high school. Andrew Avenue School improved enough on the 2010 CMT to make “safe harbor” under No Child Left Behind.

In order to make safe harbor schools must reduce the number of students at the basic and below basic by 10 percent. Safe harbor is essentially a limbo under No Child Left Behind. Schools designated as such didn’t make enough improvement to be taken off the list, but also didn’t fall too far back to face further repercussions.

Long River Middle School was the only Region 16 school on the “in need of improvement list” last year, due to the scores of special education students, Agostine explained. It was under safe harbor status last year.

The progress report on AYP is expected to be released later this summer. School administrators will be giving full, detailed reports on CMT and CAPT scores to their respective boards of education later this year.

For more detailed information on CMT and CAPT scores visit ctreports.com.