No explanation for spike in scores

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Teachers receive testing training

PROSPECT —A spike in reading assessment scores remains unexplained as school officials have decided to drop a review of the scores in order to focus on ensuring all teachers are trained in testing protocols.

In March, school administrators removed some Algonquin School third-grade teachers from their classrooms prior to the reading subtests of the Connecticut Mastery Test. School officials said the teachers were removed because they had not been trained in the protocols to administer the test.

The move elicited concerns and accusations from parents, who felt the district’s administration lied to them when they questioned the removal. Following an outcry from parents, interim Superintendent of Schools Tim James issued a letter explaining the situation

In the letter, James explained removing the teachers  stemmed from a spike in reading assessments of third-graders in 2011 and a stricter policy regarding CMT administration in the wake of the cheating scandal at Hopeville Elementary School in Waterbury.

James’ letter states the scores of “several” third graders on developmental reading assessments given in the spring of 2011 spiked significantly from the assessment issued to the same students in the winter of 2011. The scores “had spiked to levels that statistically could not have been achieved in that short period of time,” the letter states.
The scores of the same students as fourth graders showed more consistent achievement levels, the letter states.

“I attempted to find out what the spiked spring 2011 scores could be attributed to but no explanation has been offered to date,” James said in the letter.

James said last week that cheating wasn’t involved, and he had to make a decision to keep pursuing the unexplained spike or to make sure teachers are well-versed in the practices of test administration. He chose to do training, he said.

Staff now is well-versed in the administration of testing, James said. They have taken workshops and will continue to do so in the next couple of weeks, he said. Refreshers will be given as necessary, he added.

Algonquin has been through a series of changes in the last few months.

Lynn Patterson, who has served as the school’s principal since August 1997, is retiring June 30 following an investigation by school officials into what they have only described as a “personnel issue.”

Andrea Einhorn, the district’s curriculum director and assistant director of special education, was originally assigned to oversee the school’s daily operations in Patterson’s absence.

Long River Middle School Assistant Principal Kristin Reichelt-Bernier has since been hired as Algonquin’s interim principal and the district is currently searching for a new principal to have in place in August.

Karen Aliciene, a sixth-grade language arts teacher at Long River, has been hired as Long River’s interim assistant principal.