School officials pleased with test scores

By Lisa Capobianco
Staff Writer
School officials said they are pleased with the scores on the Connecticut Mastery Tests (CMTs) and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) for the 2012-2013 school year, and are ready to prepare for changes the exams will bring during the current school year. Students in grades three to eight take the CMTs, which evaluate their skills in mathematics, reading and writing, every year. Fifth and eight grade students also take science, an additional section of the test.
Students in the district scored above the state average across all subjects in regards to the percentage of students meeting the goal on the tests. The “goal” is equivalent to what school officials want students to attain every year, which is also the percentage that federal programs like No Child Left Behind evaluate to ensure that students do not fall behind academically.
When school officials evaluate the test scores, they view them laterally in order to understand the strengths and weaknesses of grade levels instead of comparing the score to the year before.
For instance, fourth graders scored 6.9 percent higher on the reading portion than they did last year as third graders. Fifth graders, sixth graders and seventh graders also showed improvements in the reading section. The fifth grade class scored 3.6 percent higher while the sixth grade class scored 6.1 percent higher. The seventh grade class scored 3.5 percent higher and the eighth grade class remained exactly the same at 88 percent.
The third grade class met goal across all sections of the test.  They scored 83 percent in mathematics, 71 percent in reading and 73.2 percent in writing.
“Southington really held itself, and in some cases we even scored higher than in the past,” Assistant Supt. of Schools Karen Smith said during a recent Board of Education meeting. “We are seeing some continued growth in the areas we have been focusing for the last few years.”
Students in tenth grade take the CAPT, which evaluates their skills in reading, writing, science and mathematics. They take this test once throughout their high school career, so school officials cannot track the students’ progress over the years. Scores for the sophomores increased this year in math, science and writing.  There was a 3.2 percent increase in the math, a 5.5 percent increase in science and a 5.7 percent increase in writing.  The percentage of students meeting goal on the reading portion decreased by 1.8 percent.
“I am proud to share that our scores remained solid, and I am particularly proud of the high school,” said Southington School Supt. Dr. Joseph Erardi. “Our math scores remained solid, and our reading scores across the district [went through] static or incremental growth.”
Dr. Erardi said educators across the district started to prepare students for the new Common Core State Standards, which the state adopted in 2010. The Common Core State Standards have higher expectations for what students in every grade must learn, consisting of fewer lesson plans that dig deeper into each subject. The CMT and CAPT are not designed in alignment with the Common Core State Standards.
By the 2014-2015 school year, Connecticut will administer the Smarter Balanced Assessments at all schools, and will only implement the science portion of the CMT and CAPT.  Dr. Erardi said Governor Dannel Malloy has asked for a waiver from CMT and CAPT, which allows districts to “opt out” of traditional testing during the current school year.  The Southington school district has decided to start the Smarter Balanced Assessments this year, instead of taking traditional tests.  Students will take the new test online rather than use paper and pencils to complete it.
“We will move to Smarter Balanced testing for this school year, allowing us to be fully prepared for the following school year,” Erardi said.

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