Test results set new baseline

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A new baseline to measure student achievement in the state has been set. And, as many expected, that baseline has been set low.

State officials released the results of the new Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium tests in late August. As predicted, the scores appear to show many Connecticut students and schools failing to meet expectations, especially in math.

Connecticut Education Commissioner Dianne Wentzell explained the test is aligned to tougher student expectations under the new Common Core State Standards.

Only 55.4 percent of Connecticut students who took the test this spring met or beat grade-level expectations in English language arts. The expectations are intended as a benchmark for students on track for college and career readiness. In math, only 39.1 percent met that target.

Wentzell said the new computerized tests are better at assessing individual student strengths and needs because they’re “adaptive.” That means the better a student performs, the more challenging the test becomes. The test was taken by students in grades 3 through 8, and grade 11, last spring.

Connecticut officials adopted the Common Core standards in 2010. Most state schools began administering the Smarter Balanced tests in 2014. Officials didn’t release scores for that year.

Wentzell said the results will be used as a “baseline” against which future scores will be compared to determine progress. This will be part of a formula determining if schools are living up to expectations. Other factors include graduation rates, physical fitness scores and performance of high-needs subgroups, such as low-income students.

Locally, Naugatuck and Region 16 officials are still delving into their results. However, the scores followed the state trends.

In Naugatuck, 48.4 percent of students met or exceeded expectations in English language arts, while 29.1 percent hit that benchmark in math.

“The preliminary review of the data suggest that our students perform better in literacy than in numeracy as was the case with our historical CMT data,” Naugatuck Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke said. “This school year, we identified math as an instructional focus and the Smarter Balanced results confirm that was a wise choice.”

In Region 16, which oversees schools in Beacon Falls and Prospect, 57 percent of students met or exceeded expectations in English language arts, while 43.9 percent did so in math.

Region 16 Superintendent of Schools Michael Yamin said officials figured scores would dip due to the new test and shift in curriculum, and the hope was every district would dip together.

Yamin said the district is still working on developing curriculum to align with the new standards. He said the results from the SBAC will help the district identify where students are, what the district’s expectation of students are, and what specific areas need to be improved.

“This is a baseline for us that we’ve been waiting for,” Yamin said.

As borough officials become more familiar with the structure of the new data, Locke said, the hope is the SBAC will help measure student progress toward career and college readiness and help illuminate areas for improvement.

“We are hopeful that the new assessment will help us focus on growth for all students,” she said.

Math

Percentage of students who met or exceeded expectations  

Naugatuck

Grade 3: 43.2

Grade 4: 35.8

Grade 5: 21.7

Grade 6: 29.6

Grade 7: 26.6

Grade 8: 21.0

Grade 11: 25.8

Region 16

Grade 3: 66.0

Grade 4: 48.1

Grade 5: 47.5

Grade 6: 40.4

Grade 7: 40.7

Grade 8: 37.9

Grade 11: 31.4

State

Grade 3: 48

Grade 4: 44.2

Grade 5: 36.9

Grade 6: 37.3

Grade 7: 38.8

Grade 8: 36.8

Grade 11: 30.6

English language arts

Percentage of students who met or exceeded expectations 

Naugatuck

Grade 3: 49.7

Grade 4: 46.2

Grade 5: 45.7

Grade 6: 52.6

Grade 7: 45.9

Grade 8: 47.1

Grade 11: 52.3

Region 16

Grade 3: 69.4

Grade 4: 52.1

Grade 5: 69

Grade 6: 50

Grade 7: 55.2

Grade 8: 58.0

Grade 11: 45.5

State

Grade 3: 53.6

Grade 4: 55

Grade 5: 58.5

Grade 6: 55.6

Grade 7: 57.1

Grade 8: 54

Grade 11: 53.4