NAUGATUCK — Student performance improved at seven of the borough’s nine schools under the state’s latest assessment.
The state Department of Education’s grading program, the Next Generation Accountability System, was implemented in 2015 to comply with a revised federal education reform law and rates schools based on 12 factors. The factors, which are weighted, include students’ academic performance on math, English and science tests, their attendance, graduation rates, physical fitness, physical fitness and whether that school provides access to arts education.
Schools and districts are measured on a 100-point scale and ranked 1 to 5 based on those grades. The highest-performing schools are rated Category 1. The schools ranking in the lowest 10 percent of schools statewide are rated a Category 4, while those among the lowest 5 percent rank as Category 5. The two lowest categories are considered “turnaround” and “focus” schools, respectively.
Overall, Naugatuck scored a 73.3 on the 2017-18 accountability index. Naugatuck’s score came in below the state average of 74.9, but was an increase over the borough’s index score of 68.4 in 2016-17.
Two of Naugatuck’s nine schools — Salem Elementary School and Western Elementary School — earned Category 1 status. The rest fell into either Category 2 or 3, and none were classified as turnaround or focus schools.
“I can’t say enough how proud I am of the work that happens every day in our schools,” Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke said.
Of Naugatuck’s nine schools, seven improved their scores. Andrew Avenue Elementary School and Salem Elementary School experienced significant gains and increased their scores by nearly 19 percent to 78.8 and 89.8 percent, respectively.
The two schools where scores decreased — Hop Brook Elementary School and Maple Hill Elementary School — both went down by 0.5 percent.
Andrew Avenue, Salem, and Western elementary schools were named schools of distinction, a recognition reserved for schools that are in the top 10 percent of all schools for levels of growth from the previous year or level of overall performance, or both.
Western and Andrew Avenue were named schools of distinction for the growth they made. Salem earned the designation for both its level of growth and overall performance.
“Our teachers have a relentless focus on making sure each and every child is making growth so they can be successful,” Locke said.
Jennifer Kruge, the former principal of Salem who retired in June, said being recognized as a school of distinction isn’t something that happens quickly.
“That’s what we have to recognize, it doesn’t just happen overnight. It isn’t just one year you have a great year. It progresses,” Kruge said.
Kruge said she could tell the school was progressing on the right path.
“Every time I went into the teachers’ classrooms and saw what they were doing, I was saying to myself ‘we are getting close.’ And last year, when I was going around to the classrooms, I knew in my heart we were there,” Kruge said.
With the state data in hand, Locke said administrators will be looking to see where they can make gains.
“The process never ends, even when we are at a Category 1. Until we have a 100 percent and are excelling academically, there is always have more work to do,” Locke said.
The Republican-American contributed to this article.