Naugatuck, Region 16 see little movement in scores 

The overall scores for the Naugatuck and Region 16 school districts under the state’s Next Generation Accountability System remained relatively flat.

The state this month released the 2016-17 results under the accountability system, which grades schools and districts on a zero-to-100 system using 12 different indicators.

Student performance on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), which is given to students in grades three through eight, and the SAT, which high school juniors take, and the growth shown by students in English and math weigh heavily on a district’s overall score. The accountability system also takes into account factors such as chronic absenteeism, graduation rates, post-secondary entrance rates, physical fitness and access to arts.

Statewide, the cumulative accountability index score for 2016-17 was 73.2 percent, up by one-tenth of a point over 2015-16.

Ajit Gopalakrishnan, chief performance officer for the state Department of Education, described the overall index as “roughly stable” during a conference call with reporters last week.

“Some indicators did better than others,” he said, noting an overall improvement in the number of 11th-grade students showing readiness for college or career.

Naugatuck’s score increased slightly to 68.4 in 2016-17 from 68.1 in 2015-16. Region 16’s score dropped from 78.8 in 2015-16 to 76.8 in 2016-17.

While Region 16’s overall score dropped, the district, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, outperformed the state average score in English and math for all students and high need students.

The district lagged behind the state average when it came to achieving the growth target in English for all students and the high need subgroup, and in math for high need students — those that are special education, on free and reduced lunch or are English language learners.

“Our high need students continue to be an area we need to focus,” said Michele Raynor, director of curriculum, instruction and assessments for Region 16.

Raynor said officials are still delving into the results, but that the overall drop could be due to the state shifting more weight in the index score to the growth of students.

Raynor added that it’s important for students to take the test. The percentage of high need students in Region 16 that took the tests last year didn’t meet the state-required 95 percent because parents opted their children out of the tests, she said. The district was docked points due to the participation figures, she said.

In Naugatuck, the district came in below the state average for English and math scores for all students, but exceeded the state when it came to the score of high need students in those subjects.

Naugatuck fell below the state average score in regards to hitting the growth target for English for all students and the high need subgroup, but exceed the state scores in math growth.

Naugatuck Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke didn’t return a message seeking comment.

The results were a mixed bag for individual schools in Naugatuck and Region, with some schools seeing their scores increase while others went down.

Schools are placed into one of five categories. The highest performing schools are in Category 1, while categories 4 and 5 are for the lowest-performing schools. All Naugatuck and Region 16 schools were either in category 2 or 3.

Region 16’s Woodland Regional High School is one of 16 previously identified “focus schools” that shed that label.

Focus schools are those that have subgroups of students identified as being in the bottom 10 percent in terms of achievement. Woodland was labeled a focus school in 2014-15 due to the performance of high needs students in math.

Gopalakrishnan said the criteria for exiting the focus category is “pretty challenging.”

“What we are requiring is that they not be in the bottom ten percent two years in a row. We also want to not see participation rates below 95 percent in both years,” he said. “The bar is high.”

Region 16 school officials also pointed to the district’s standing in its District Reference Group (DRG), groups of school districts that are put together based on socioeconomic factors.

“We have shown, as a region, in our DRG that we are making steady, steady progress,” Raynor said.

Region 16’s DRG, which has 35 districts, includes districts like Cornwall, Coventry, Litchfield, Kent and Thomaston. Region 16’s 76.8 score in 2016-17 ranks the district 15th in its DRG. The region was 23rd in 2014-15.

“I am confident we are trending up to the top of our DRG through solid improvements in our practices. We are extremely focused on improving teaching and learning, while providing our staff with embedded professional development and our students the resource and interventions for personalized learning and growth,” Region 16 Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin said in an emailed statement.

The Republican-American contributed to this article.