HARTFORD More of the city's younger students are achieving the state's performance goals in reading, math and writing, sustaining a trend of improvement for Hartford schools on the Connecticut Mastery Test, according to state data released Wednesday.
The achievement gap is still cavernous neighboring West Hartford outpaced the city by 50 percentage points in grade 4 math, for example. But the school system made modest gains on the standardized exam through most grade levels, with the highest scores posted by the city's magnet schools.
Hartford eighth-graders showed a slight drop in math and reading performance compared with their grade 7 scores in 2010.
The stakes have been high for city educators, who are under pressure to show the results of a five-year reform plan that began when former Superintendent Steven Adamowski arrived in 2006 to overhaul some of the state's worst-performing schools. Leading up to the exams in early March, administrators even tacked on an extra hour to the school day, hoping to recoup study time lost by snow days.
Among city third-graders, 33 percent met the state's "goal" of mastery in reading up from 27 percent in 2010 and the dismal 15 percent in 2006. At individual schools, the results included 19 percent at the Betances Early Reading Lab School on Charter Oak Avenue and 69 percent at Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School in the North End.
About 29 percent of fourth-graders reached mastery in reading, while just 22 percent of the fifth-graders did, including 3 percent at Clark School, 6 percent at Moylan, 8 percent at America's Choice at SAND and 9 percent at Core Knowledge Academy at Milner.
Still, the city's overall reading scores for fifth-graders were an improvement from the 18 percent who achieved mastery in that grade in 2010.
Hartford students in grade 6 posted some of the highest marks for the school system, with 48 percent meeting the goal in reading, 42 percent in math and 39 percent in writing, all gains, state data show.
But the top score in the city belonged to the seventh-graders, 51 percent of whom achieved the reading goal up from about 46 percent in 2010 and a jump from the 2006 figure of 32 percent. Comparatively, the statewide average for grade 7 reading was 78 percent in both 2010 and 2011.
Among the top performers in seventh-grade reading in the city were the Noah Webster MicroSociety Magnet School at 79 percent mastery; the Kinsella Magnet School of Performing Arts at 78 percent; the Breakthrough Magnet School and the Sport and Medical Sciences Academy, each at 71 percent.
As a whole, only 29 percent of Hartford seventh-graders met the goal in writing compared with 38 percent when they were sixth-graders in 2010. Thirty-nine percent achieved mastery in math; in grade 6 last year, 42 percent reached the goal.
While noting the school system's improvement, Jim Starr, executive director of the reform group Achieve Hartford!, said the city needs even more urgency.
"Slow and steady growth is not sufficient to close the achievement gap Accelerating it needs to be the highest priority," Starr said.
Schools spokesman David Medina said school officials were poring over the test results Wednesday and planned to hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. Monday to offer a "full analysis."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at