Data shows retention rate, struggling students



NAUGATUCK — The Board of Education had its first look at a report of how many students are failing in each grade and the rate of retention in borough schools.

The board recently requested information on the district’s retention policy and how students are getting along in school. Assistant Superintendent of Schools Christopher Montini presented the data to the board last week.

The data, which is all from the 2012-13 school year, was broken down by elementary school, intermediate school, middle school and high school.

Montini said there are no failure rates for the elementary schools, since the schools use standards-based grading. Therefore, he took the reading and math scores that are administered across the grade levels and listed the number of students who are far below their grade level.

According to the data, 17 percent of elementary students were below grade level in reading, 19 percent were below grade level in math computation and 9 percent were below grade level in math concepts and application.

The math computation test is not administered to kindergarten students. The math concepts and application test is not given to kindergarten or first grade students.

Two students were retained in kindergarten last year and one student was held back in first grade, according to Montini. Requests were made by parents and denied for retention of one student in first grade and two third-graders, he added.

Board member Diana Malone questioned why a request would be denied if a parent did not feel their child was ready to move on.

Montini said the teachers might feel the students are showing enough growth to move on to the next grade level. He added there is research that shows that retention doesn’t always work for every student.

“Often retention is repeating the same grade. If they didn’t succeed the first time, and you don’t do anything differently, what makes you think that’s going to be good for them,” Montini said. “Sometimes, in lieu of retention, we provide different services. We provide after school tutoring, explicit instruction, small group instruction, we may have a resource room teacher for special education, or a reading tutor provide additional support to try to do things differently.”

According to the data, 8 percent of fifth-graders received a D or lower in one class and 3 percent got a D or worse in two classes. In sixth grade, 11 percent of students had a D or lower for one class, 4 percent got a D or worse in two classes and 2 percent received a D or lower in three classes.

According to the report, 6 percent of seventh-graders and 11 percent of eighth-graders received a failing grade for one or more classes.

No students in grades five through eight were retained last year.

Board member Glenn Connan said he was concerned three students at City Hill Middle School failed three or more classes, yet were promoted to high school.

Montini said he didn’t have the detailed information on the students Connan brought up.

Montini recommended making the presentation an annual report, which would allow him to make a more detailed analysis.

Montini said that if this becomes an annual report he would be able to drill down and tell the board if these students are already receiving substantial intervention services, or if they are special education students and are already receiving individualized help.

At Naugatuck High School any grade below a C, or 70, is considered failing.

According to the report, 41 percent of seniors, 40 percent of juniors, 39 percent of sophomores and 35 percent of freshmen received a failing grade in one or more classes last school year.

Montini said the high school does not have a retention policy, but students that fail a class do not receive credits towards graduation. He said the district’s current retention policy is in line with other surrounding districts.

Montini reiterated his suggestion that the board make the presentation a yearly report. The board is expected to act on the request during the March meeting.