By Rob Glidden
Southington school officials are delighted with the district’s scores on the Connecticut Mastery Tests (CMTs) and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) for the 2011-2012 school year, and are preparing to adapt when the test goes through significant changes in future years.
The CMTs, which evaluate student skills in reading, writing and mathematics, are issued each year to students in grades three through eight. Fifth and eighth grade students also take a science-related portion of the test.
In all grades across all subjects, Southington students exceeded the state average when it came to the percentage of students meeting the goal on the exams. The “goal” benchmark is what school officials hope students achieve each year, and this percentage is what the federal programs like No Child Left Behind (NCLB) examine to see if students are making adequate progress.
In grades three through five, there are no 2012 percentages that are lower than the 2011 results. If it weren’t for fifth-grade mathematics (which, at 89.5 percent, remained exactly the same as 2011), the scores would be consistently higher in those grades.
“This is a great report card for Southington and it affirms the work that has been going on in the classrooms,” said Assistant Superintendent Karen Smith. “We did not see any significant negative changes at all. It’s been a continuous rise for us and the trend data makes us very happy.”
There were only three instances of lower scores in the CMT results, the largest of which is a 6.9 percent decrease in eighth-grade writing. However, there is also a 9.1 percent increase in seventh-grade writing, which is an example of looking at the test results laterally in order to get a better sense of the strengths and weaknesses of groups rather than simply comparing the scores to the year before.
“That kind of data is equally important,” Smith said. “It tells the story of one student or one class through the years.”
The CAPT evaluates tenth-grade students in mathematics, science, reading and writing.
This test is different because students only take it once and progress can not be tracked in the same way that scores for elementary students are over the years.
Scores for the district’s sophomores went up in three out of the four sections of the test – 3.9 percent in math, 5.2 percent in reading and 3.4 percent in writing. The percentage of students meeting goal on the science section dropped by 2.4 percent.
“I continue to be impressed at how well our kids are doing,” said Board of Education Chairman Brian Goralski. “We will really start getting into the results when the detailed presentation comes before the board.”
The school is also preparing for when the tests will be overhauled in the 2014-2015 school year as part of the “Common Core State Standards” initiative. Smith that these tests would be more computerized and more tailored to individual students.