City Has $100,000 Contract With Test Administrator, College Board
By VANESSA DE LA TORRE
July 18, 2011
HARTFORD —— In a city where one out of two students drop out, all high school juniors will now be expected to take the SAT next spring — partly to get their minds on college, but also to give the school system another measure of student performance.
To prepare for the college entrance exam, every Hartford sophomore and junior will be required to take the PSAT this fall, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said Monday.
The city's education budget includes a $100,000 contract with the College Board, which produces the PSAT and SAT, to administer the tests during the school day and provide detailed data to teachers on how students do. A grant that the federal government awarded Hartford last year to improve the city graduation rate — around 52 percent — will help pay for the exams.
Students may then have the option of retaking the SAT during their senior year to improve their reading, math and writing scores, Kishimoto said.
In 2010, 573 high school seniors in the city took the SAT and performed about 300 points below the average composite score in Connecticut, according to state data. In West Hartford, a school system half the size of Hartford, 624 seniors took the test and scored 87 points above the average.
At a press conference Monday, Kishimoto and former Superintendent Steven Adamowski noted the city's progress on diminishing the gaping achievement gap, based on results from the Connecticut Mastery Test and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test that show another year of incremental gains.
Adamowski, who is serving as a special adviser to Kishimoto this month, highlighted the Kinsella Magnet School of Performing Arts, which was on the school system's intervention list only four years ago and is now a top performer in the elementary and middle grades.
Citywide, scores for eighth-graders declined this year. Kishimoto said later that she is "concerned about students not being ready for ninth grade."
Among the high school sophomores who took the CAPT exam, only 11 percent reached the state's goal in reading, down from last year's figure of 16 percent.
Fourteen percent of Hartford's 10th-graders met the goal in science, up from 13 percent last year. Seventeen percent reached the mathematics goal — about flat — while 31 percent accomplished it in writing, compared to 29 percent in 2010.
When the reform effort began five years ago, "we were in a very desperate situation," said board Chairman David MacDonald, who emphasized the school system's overall gains under Adamowski. But, MacDonald said, "some of the CAPT results were not what we were looking for."
The 2011 scores appeared especially grim at Hartford Public High School's Nursing Academy: 1 percent of the sophomores achieved the goal in math, 3 percent in science, 1 percent in reading and 17 percent in writing. The "goal" is the state's target for performance.
The second, five-year phase of the school system's reform, Kishimoto said, will include bolstering academic programs in the middle school grades and focusing on "college readiness." The city schools will use the SAT as another way to test how students are faring before they apply to community colleges and universities.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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