But Some That Have Done Well Show A Decline In Mastery Test
April 5, 2005
By RACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant Staff Writer
In a curious twist,
several of Hartford's top performing elementary schools - including
the federally recognized Simpson-Waverly - dropped dramatically
in their Connecticut Mastery Test results in 2004, while some
of the lowest-performing schools in the city showed impressive
Overall, in fourth-grade reading,
the percentage of Hartford students reaching the state goal
dipped from 20 percent to 15 percent. The most troublesome
figure, though, is the percentage of students reading at the
lowest level, called "below basic," meaning
they aren't reading anywhere near grade level.
Throughout the district, 56 percent of fourth-graders scored
below basic. At Barnard-Brown Elementary School, 78 percent of
the students are reading below the basic level and so are 73
percent of Milner Elementary School's children. In all, 10 of
28 schools have at least 60 percent of their fourth-graders scoring
at this level. The figures include students learning English
as a second language and special education students.
Silvia Winn, principal of Barnard-Brown since August, said her
results are a reflection in part of the school's transitory population
and a high percentage of students who speak English as a second
language. Last year, she said, more than 100 new students transferred
into the school and just eight of them were reading on grade
level. Next year, Winn said, test results should improve, because
the school received a substantial grant this year to pay for
intensive literacy instruction training for teachers.
"Reading needs to be the focus for Hartford," Winn
said. "Reading has an effect on math and writing. It's very
sad. Our students can do better. Our students need to do better...We
have to instill in them a love of reading."
Since the tests are administered in the first weeks of school,
results reflect last year's teaching and learning rather than
current instruction. That will change next year when the test
is administered in the spring for the first time.
The good news is the improvement that historically low-achieving
schools made this year. Some, such as McDonough Elementary, more
than doubled the percentage of fourth-graders reading at the
state goal, with 10 percent hitting the mark last year and 23
percent reaching it this year.
Continuing its upward trend, Dwight Elementary School placed
first in the district among fourth-graders in reading, writing
and math with the highest percentage of students reaching the
state goal in all subjects.
Just four years ago, the school was second from the bottom in
the city, with 11 percent of the students reaching the goal in
reading. This year, 39 percent reached that goal, representing
a drop from the 45 percent who reached the goal last year.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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