Greenwich Public Schools CMT, CAPT science scores released

Greenwich Public Schools’ Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) science scores remained consistent with past years’, but saw a slight decline at the eighth and 10th grade levels. Performance reports for the two standardized tests were updated with the 2014 science scores on Aug. 13.

The CMT is administered to students in grades five and eight, while the CAPT is reserved for grade 10. In the past the tests were used to assess students in other subjects as well as science, but the district moved on to the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) for language arts and mathematics testing this year. The science test remains, though, and the results are slated to be extensively discussed at the Sept. 4 Board of Education Work Session.

At the elementary level, 80.5% Greenwich students performed at or above goal levels, far above the state average of 59.6%. When matched against the other schools within Connecticut’s District Reference Group B (DRG-B), a group of approximately 20 school districts with comparable socioeconomic status, the district is at par.

While more than 90% of fifth graders in districts like Farmington and Fairfield were at or above goal level, Greenwich deals with roughly twice the average number of students in the DRG-B district. The average percentage of students at or above goal level in DRG-B was 81.67% by the Post’s calculation, and Greenwich elementary schoolers sat near the median level among similar districts with their 80.5%.

However, when testing Greenwich’s eighth graders, the district appears to be behind the curve within DRG-B, coming in last among the 17 districts tested. With 72.2% of eighth graders meeting or exceeding goal performance, Greenwich is a full 10 percentage points below the group average of 83.6%. Western Middle School appears to be a major problem area, with just 48.3% of the school’s students reaching goal scores, a drop of more than five percentage points since last year. Eastern Middle School also saw a five-point decline from 90.1% to 85.1%, while Central is at 74.1%.

While the number of students achieving goal scores is lower at the 10th grade level, Greenwich is closer to the median of DRG-B with 69.3%. That figure shows just a slight dropoff from the previous year, and still sits a full 20 points higher than the state percentage.

 “This year’s results show continued progress at many levels. They also indicate, however, that we need to increase efforts to support more rigorous science curriculum and instruction in all grades, with special attention to middle schools,” Schools Superintendent William McKersie said in a statement released with the results. “We will be looking for comprehensive ways to promote STEM education and other standards-based science instruction. We have great potential to be a model for science education.”

Dr. McKersie could not be reached for additional comment on the scores but he will be one of the many discussing the issue at the Sept. 4 work session, which will take place at 7 p.m. in the Havemeyer Building.

The district continues to be vocal about fixing the achievement gap between students, and in the past has attributed low test scores to the disparity between students on reduced-priced or free lunch and those who pay full price. However, results show that eighth graders across the state receiving reduced-price or free lunch are still outperforming those in Greenwich, with 35.4% of those students reaching goal performance compared to just 23.2% in the town.

Though income level often correlates with lower scores, Greenwich seems to be doing an inadequate job addressing the needs of students at some schools regardless of what their parents earn. Only 59.1% of students paying full price for their lunch at Hamilton Avenue School are meeting goal performance rates, which is below state average and well below the rest of the town’s standard.

Hamilton Avenue and New Lebanon School have been cited for being racially imbalanced schools by the state and both sit far behind state averages for both goal performance and basic proficiency in the sciences. Students from both schools transition into Western Middle School, and see little growth, based on the data. As part of the district’s response to the racial imbalance, both schools are expected to receive a boost to the academic structure of their magnet programs, with Hamilton Avenue’s magnet program expected to be completely rewritten this year.

Language arts and mathematics results for the new SBA tests, which are administered in grades three to eight as well as 11, are expected later this year. The State Department of Education is looking into adopting Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for assessment in the future, but the CMT and CAPT science tests are expected to last for at least another year.

The district plans to draft and discuss a report detailing the results by school and student subgroups, as well as an analysis of the scores and potential implications for the school system during the Sept. 4 work session. The CMT and CAPT scores are public information and may be viewed via CTreports.com. Users are able to separate the data by district, school and student subdivisions on the website.

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