Hartford Test Scores Show Progress In Reform Effort
By VANESSA DE LA TORRE
July 19, 2012
HARTFORD — — City schoolchildren continue to improve in reading on the Connecticut Mastery Test, part of an upward trend since reform efforts began in 2006, according to state data released Thursday.
Among fifth-graders, for example, 36.4 percent met the state's reading goal on the spring exam — far below the state average of 67.7 percent mastery, and just one indicator of the massive achievement gap that exists in the state. But the score was higher than the 28.5 percent mark that the students achieved as fourth-graders last year.
A third of this year's fourth-graders also achieved mastery in reading, a modest gain compared to their scores as third-graders in 2011. For Hartford sixth-graders, 47.4 percent hit the goal mark, a 25-point leap from the students' scores a year ago.
Fifty-six percent of seventh-graders reached mastery, another improvement, although math and writing scores dipped slightly.
The scores were flat for grades 3 and 8, except for an uptick in writing.
Superintendent Christina Kishimoto has staked her tenure on raising childhood literacy and said Thursday that "we delivered on that ... The important part for me is if we're going to bump it up again next year."
However, overall scores on the Connecticut Academic Performance Test, an exam for high school sophomores, were stagnant. The city's magnet schools far outpaced the specialized academies that represent Hartford's other public high schools.
At High School Inc., an insurance and finance academy for city students downtown, no sophomores scored at the goal level for math. Twenty-six percent tested as "proficient" in the subject.
Students at Hartford High's Engineering and Green Technology Academy also tested poorly in the core school areas of math (29 percent proficiency) and science (16 percent). Scores were down in all subjects.
A quarter of the 10th-graders at the Culinary Arts Academy at Weaver High School scored proficient in reading, a decline from last year's 38.5 percent mark. One of the bright spots was at Opportunity High, an alternative education school for former dropouts, where writing scores improved to 82 percent proficiency, a jump from 43.5 percent in 2011.
The statewide average for 10th-grade writing is 89 percent, while Hartford's is 74 percent. Last year, the citywide proficiency rate was 70.5 percent.
Kishimoto said Thursday that boosting high school achievement through a "college readiness" strategy will be a priority in the 2012-13 year.
As a whole, the city's results from the 2012 exams show a fifth straight year of incremental progress. Using the district's Overall School Index, a metric system, Kishimoto said 29 out of 45 schools posted better test scores this year, including 18 with major OSI gains of 4 points or higher.
Staff members at the 18 schools will be eligible for $2,500 bonuses as part of the school system's group performance incentive program. Eight are magnet schools.
Scores at Betances Early Reading Lab, a prekindergarten to grade 3 neighborhood school, particularly skyrocketed. Betances posted an OSI gain of 35.9 points, easily the biggest one-year jump in the city's history.
In reading, for instance, 19 percent of last year's group of 47 third-graders hit the goal level. In 2012, there were 31 Betances third-graders who took the reading exam and 74 percent achieved mastery.
The state Department of Education released the test scores late Thursday afternoon. Hartford had planned to break the state's embargo by holding a press conference announcing its scores that morning, but canceled at the last minute.
Milner Core Knowledge Academy, a candidate for the state's first round of Commissioner's Network schools, remained the lowest-performing school in Hartford and an apparent shoo-in for state intervention with 13.5 percent of third-graders testing proficient in reading.
Among the school system's top performers were Noah Webster MicroSociety Magnet School, University High School of Science and Engineering, Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School and Achievement First Hartford Academy.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at