School officials will review CMT scores later this month

Milford school officials, saying they were “troubled” by results from the 2013 mastery test scores, plan to discuss them at a meeting later this month.

At a recent meeting, Board Chairman Tracy Casey said the board usually reviews results of the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) and Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) at its August meeting. However, the state released data later than usual, and therefore administrators did not have time to fully review the information.

“We are troubled with the results,” Casey said. “The entire state is troubled with the results.”

According to the Connecticut State Department of Education website, the statewide results of the 2013 CAPT were generally positive. Performance increased slightly in mathematics, science and reading, but decreased slightly in writing, state officials reported.

Student performance data on the CMT show decreases in all grades and content areas as compared to last year, however.

“Over the past two years, thanks to Governor Malloy and the General Assembly, we have taken significant steps to enhance public education in our state,” said State Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor. “And there are initial signs that our signature reforms are working. We are encouraged by the bright spots, especially gains on the CAPT test and in the Commissioner's Network this year, though it remains clear that major work lies ahead to ensure that each student is prepared for success in college and career.”

State officials go on to say that in 2010 the State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards, a set of clearer, fewer, and higher expectations articulating what students need to learn in a given grade.

“With new standards, Connecticut will need to administer new assessments,” according to the state website. “The CAPT/CMT assessments are not designed to measure student learning relative to the Common Core standards, the state website states.”

Milford School Supt. Dr. Elizabeth Feser said she will provide a detailed analysis of the results at the September committee of the whole meeting. That meeting is scheduled for Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. in the Board of Education meeting room in the Parson's Government Center.

Feser said she, too, was “surprised and disappointed” in the results. She noted that other indicators suggest that Milford students are doing well.

Results posted on the state education website show slight drops almost across the board on the CMTs for Milford students. In grade three, for example, the number of students scoring at or above the proficiency level in math dropped from 92% in 2012 to 90% in 2013. In writing, however, the numbers rose slightly, with 88.4% of students scoring at or above proficient compared to 86.5% the previous year.

In grade five, math scores dropped slightly from 75.7% at or above goal in 2012 to 74.9% in 2012. But at the same time, the number of students scoring at or above the proficiency level in math rose from 88.3% to 89.2% in 2013.

Tom Jagodzinski, who is running for a seat on the Board of Education, has done an analysis of the test results and has raised the issue through letters to the newspapers and comments at the recent school board meeting.

“Recent state test results show Milford's K-8 schools rank below average when compared with similar districts in every grade and every category except third grade writing,” Jagodzinski said. “Milford high schools ranked 22nd and 23rd out of 24, almost dead last, in every category.”

Casey could not comment on the validity of Jagodzinski's statement.

“We don't know what comparison he's using and if they're appropriate or not,” Casey said. “We're very focused on Milford schools and Milford results. We will be looking at those. The board has a focus on improving those results and is anxious to see what steps we need to take, if any.”

Scores for grade 10 CAPTs posted on the state education website show Milford student scores dropping slightly or staying relatively the same as 2012. For example, in math, the percentage of students scoring at or above proficient dropped from 84% in 2012 to 81.7% in 2013. In science, the proficiency number went from 88.5% in 2012 to 86.8% in 2013. In reading, the number rose from 83.3% in 2012 to 83.9% in 2013, and in writing dipped from 90.5% at a proficient level to 90.4%.