“Good work has taken place in Suffield and continues to take place everyday in the classroom,” said Superintendent Karen Baldwin last week during a Board of Education presentation on State of Connecticut test scores.
The adminsitration summarized scores released in July that show continued progress on both the Connecticut Mastery Test and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test taken by tenth graders.
The district overall scored well on the CMTs with the percentage of students at or above goal ranging from 70 to 90 percent and placing Suffield in the top dozen of schools and far above the state average in most categories.
“Congratulations,” Board Member Mary Roy said to the administrators present at the meeting.
“Now get back to work,” she joked.
Baldwin was happy with steady improvements of students from band to band (Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, Goal, Advanced) and noted the lower bands are shrinking.
For instance, in reading for grade 3, the report shows four percent of students scoring below basic, five percent at basic and overall 77.6 percent of students at or above goal. New Hartford had the highest score of 84.1 percent in the District Reference Group (one of nine group-sets determined by socio-economic status and other factors.) In Math, third graders tested in 2009 scored 70.2 percent at or above goal and in 2012 the number rose to 82.3 percent.
“We are well within reach, and in some cases outperforming" bigger and more affluent districts like Farmington, Simsbury and Granby, Baldwin said.
Additionally, groups of kids are making big jumps in percentages over the years. Third graders tested in reading in 2007 registered a 61.8 percent at or above goal and now in grade 8 are at 88.5 percent.
"This is very promising," said Baldwin. "More children are moving toward a higher level of performance."
What’s working is providing time for small group workshops for teachers to work collaboratively on assessing students, scoring and planning, said Baldwin.
The CAPT scores showed increases from 2011 tests in every content area. In fact, there was a 13.8 percent increase in the percentage of students in the Goal range in reading.
The report shows 46.1 percent of students scored in the Advanced range in CAPT writing. In math, Suffield showed a 69.4 percent at or Above Goal compared to the highest score in the DRG a 74.5 percent from the Canton district.
Dr. James Collin, assistant superintendent, noted the district will move from the current curriculum and tests to a Common Core and new test, Smarter Balance, that aligns with those standards.
The changing landscape will mean drastically different benchmarks and new results.
“This is a period of rapid change," explained Baldwin. "We have to be flexible and focus on the common core and best practices and some of this will work itself out.”