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Preparation for new standards yields slight decline in test scores

Statewide, test results for the Connecticut Mastery Test and Connecticut Academic Performance Test showed trends of improving 10th grade scores, but declining elementary and middle school scores.

The CMT is administered to students in grades 3-8, and the CAPT is given to sophomores in high school. The tests are designed to best estimate if a student meets or exceeds grade level expectations.

Jennifer Alexander, CEO for the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, released a statement saying this year’s results reveal some positive trends, but also some negative ones.

“We need to do better for our kids to ensure that they are prepared for college and careers,” Alexander said.

Some districts found that realigning their curriculum with the upcoming Common Core State Standards may have impacted CMT scores, but not in a way that exhibits any major red flags.

For School District 13, which covers Durham and Middlefield, interim Superintendent Ernest Perlini said CMT scores were a “mixed bag” with seventh and eighth grade classes showing good growth, but slight drop-offs with grades 3-6.

“Overall I’d say our scores are a little bit better than what was predicted and shown at the state level,” Perlini said.

In Plainville, Superin-tendent Jeffrey Kitching said he was pleased with students’ performances overall considering the district has been preparing for the new Common Core State Standards.

“We’ve been gearing up for the last year and a half now for the Common Core and the changes and assessment that are coming,” Kitching said. “So we certainly did not spend as much time and concern over the CMTs this year as we have because, really, we’ve been working on realigning our own assessments to get ready for the Common Core.”

Cheshire Superintendent Greg Florio said there were some slight drops for CMT scores, but the changes come from different groups of students.

“If you look at year over year for the same grade, there were some drops,” Florio conceded. “But if you look at cohorts of students as they went from one grade level to the next grade level, there’s less change.”

Kitching said a whole new math program implemented last year isn’t really aligned to the CMT, but rather to the Common Core. Though he said middle school math scores were up across the boards for the district.

“Our efforts have really been around that, not as specifically on the content of the CMTs as they have in the past,” Kitching said.

Florio also said CMT math could have been affected by preparing for the new alignment.

“We have been focusing on implementing the math standards,” he said. “So that’s where we probably saw a little bit more of a drop.”

Southington Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr. is pleased Southington didn’t follow the trends mapped out by ConnCAN and exhibited strong scores in both CMT and CAPT. He did say he thinks the declines shown can be attributed to the transition to the Common Core.

“The message I’ll share with all that convocation is that the benefit to our methodology of work is we don’t teach to the test, we attempt to offer great instruction in all classrooms,” Erardi said. “And when you do that, you’re not predicated on what test you’re taking as you’re preparing children for all opportunities, I think that’s the reason why we did so well.”

For the CAPT, Kitching and Florio both said their districts did well, showing slight gains. Florio said the best improvements were in science and math.

“Science and math both went up to the highest level I think we’ve had ever in terms of students at goal,” Florio said. “And the other scores pretty much were flat, stayed the same.”

“We continue to see a positive progression at our high school CAPT scores so we were thrilled with that,” Kitching said.

Perlini said there were “nice improvements” for CAPT scores this year. Math showed an 11.8 percentage point increase, 13.2 in science, 11.2 in reading, and 3.9 in writing.

“When we compare it to last year’s tenth graders, we show some solid improvement,” Perlini said.

jsopchak (203) 317-2337 @SCitizen_News

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