Goal becomes the goal for Naugatuck students

NAUGATUCK — For many years, the educational benchmark in Connecticut was the number of students at or above the proficiency level on the state’s two standardized tests. Now, as the educational landscape shifts in Connecticut, the goal level will become the new standard.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Brigitte Crispino said the district’s focus is moving towards bringing more students up to the goal level on the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT).

“We’re looking at where every student is and we want to move them to the next level,” Crispino said.

The CMT is administered to students in grades three though eight. The CAPT is given to sophomores. Students are tested in math, reading, and writing. Students in fifth, eighth and tenth grade are also tested in science.

Test scores released last week show Naugatuck students improved at the goal level on the CMT in the vast majority of cases compared to 2011 scores.

CMT reading scores improved in all grades at the goal level, while writing improved in all grades except fourth grade. For math the percentage of students at the goal level increased or stayed flat in every grade besides fourth and sixth.

As for science, the fifth grade scores improved while the eighth grade scores dropped at the goal and proficiency level.

“That is one area that we’re going to look at,” said Crispino about the eighth grade science scores.

Those scores that decreased at the goal level did not do so significantly, Crispino pointed out.

The largest drop at the goal level was nearly seven percentage points in fourth-grade math. The largest jump was a 22 percentage point increase in the seventh-grade writing score at the goal level.

Naugatuck students’ scores on the CAPT were relatively stable at the goal level. Writing and math scores were flat, while the science score drop by about two percentage points and reading increased by about three percentage points.

The CMT and CAPT scores are compared to the scores of students from the previous year. Along with monitoring the test scores year-to-year, school officials also track the scores of students as they progress through the district or what is called matched cohorts.

The matched cohort analysis, Crispino said, shows the achievement of students who stay in Naugatuck improve over time. She added the stable scores on the CAPT along with the matched cohorts data show the changes the district have made are working.

“The changes that we’ve made in the last four years are starting to impact our students in a positive fashion,” Crispino said.

In the past, the district’s scores on the CMT and CAPT at the proficiency level would have been used to determine whether the district and individual schools faced sanctions under the federal No Child Left Behind act. That all changed earlier this year, when the state was granted a waiver due in part to plans to implement education reforms in the state. The reforms emphasize students’ scores at the goal level.

The state is still expected to release list of failing schools in August, but they will carry no consequences as the state overhauls its grading and consequence system.
Instead, this year’s test results will help establish a baseline for the new grading system, which officials say will be tailored to each school.

Although Naugatuck students as a whole have shown improvement at the goal level, the achievement gap between white students and minorities and affluent students and those on free and reduced lunch remains. It is not just a trend in Naugatuck as the achievement gap exists statewide.

Crispino said the district had yet to delve deep into the achievement gap statistics as of last week. She said officials will look at the achievement gap at each school to see what differences exist between the schools.

A more in depth analysis of all the scores and the achievement gap will be presented to the Board of Education in the fall, she said.

For more information, visit ctreports.com.