Test results pleasing in Region 16

REGION 16 — Administrators in Region 16 are delighted overall with the scores of Beacon Falls and Prospect students on the state’s two standardized tests.

“I was pretty happy with the scores,” said Andrea Einhorn, director of curriculum and assistant director of special education for the district. “We have really gone up, up, up overall.”

The Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) are given to students annually in the spring and the results are used by the state to measure student performance and gains in certain grades compared to the previous year’s classes.

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 showed many improvements for Region 16 students on the CMT at the proficiency level, the benchmark used by the state for years to measure student achievement.

On the reading portion of the CMT every grade improved with the exception of third grade, which dropped five percentage points at the proficiency level.

Interim Superintendent of Schools Tim James said the scores of third grade students are more of a baseline to work with.

“It’s the first time the students are taking the tests,” he said.

Einhorn said the drop third-grade scores will be explored as a kindergarten through third grade issue.

In math, every grade improved on the CMT with one exception. Grade six saw the only decrease in math scores at the proficiency level. The score dropped from 92.1 percent proficient in 2011 to 90.9 percent.

The writing portion saw the most steps backward as grades six, fifth, and fourth all fell off pace. The largest drop was in grade four were the score dropped from 92 percent proficient to 85.5 percent.

Einhorn and James said writing will be a focus for the district.

For James, the data shown by the CMT is valuable, but not as valuable as the work of data teams in the schools. Data teams evaluate where students are on a regular basis in regards to lesson units and make adjustments immediately in instruction, he said.

“We value this [CMT data], but I would say I value more the work of data teams,” James said.

James said the bottom line is the district wants to ensure when students leave Long River Middle School they are prepared for high school.

Scores of eighth grade students at the proficiency level in math, reading, and writing all improved with more than 90 percent of students at the level for each subject. The science scores took a slight step back in eighth grade dropping from 89 percent proficient last year to 87.1 percent.

As for the CAPT, the scores declined in every subject at the proficient level. The largest drop was about six percentage points in math to 85.9 percent.

Einhorn said administrators knew the class that took the CAPT this year was behind the previous class and the scores would be lower. However, she said, the class has shown improvement over time, she 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 to an education reform plan that is currently being implemented in the state.

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.

The education reform includes measuring student performance on the CMT and CAPT at the goal level, a higher standard than proficiency.

Region 16 students performed strong at the goal level on the CMT and CAPT outscoring the state average on nearly every subject at every grade. Sophomores scored below the state average at goal by 1.4 percentage points on the CAPT in math.

Einhorn said the district has always placed on emphasis on getting students to achieve at the goal level.

“Goal has always been the goal,” she said.

Across the state an achievement gap between white students and minorities and affluent students and those on free and reduced lunch remains. Region 16 didn’t have enough minority students to report results on the tests.

A gap still exists between the scores of more affluent students and those on free and reduced lunch in the region. The gap is much smaller than the state average and in several incidents the scores for the students on free and reduced lunch were nearly even with their peers. In the case of third grade math scores, students on free and reduced lunch slightly outperformed their peers at the proficiency level.

Over the summer, James said, the district will analyze the data to see if patterns emerge on the school and classroom levels. A full presentation is expected to be given to the Board of Education in the fall, he said.

Einhorn added going forward the focus for the district will continue to be on higher standards and expectations

“That for me is the biggest thing,” she said.

For more inforamtion, visit ctreports.com.