Scores on the Connecticut Academic Performance Test for 10th-graders showed small gains for the state's students, although the results did little to narrow one of the nation's worst achievement gaps.
Overall, high school sophomores improved slightly on the 2013 exam in all subjects except for writing, where performance was largely flat, according to data released this week. Since 2007, students have shown improvement in all content areas on the standardized test.
The state Department of Education also published scores for the Connecticut Mastery Test, revealing a slight dip in all subjects from grades 3 to 8.
The data show that Connecticut's urban districts remain far behind. Statewide, low-income students, Hispanics and African Americans continued to post scores well below those of wealthier students, whites and Asians.
In Bridgeport, only 8.6 percent of sophomores achieved the reading "goal," compared to the state average of 48.5 percent. Nearly one in five Hartford 10th-graders met the state's target level for reading, while in Waterbury, students meeting the reading goal declined to 16.9 percent.
Generally, 20.5 percent of Hispanics met the CAPT goal in science, a small improvement over last year, but still way behind the 62.5 percent average for white students.
Across Connecticut, the overall percentage of 10th-graders reaching the math goal increased from 49.3 percent to 52.6 percent over the past year. The science goal score increased to 49 percent. Magnet and charter high schools also scored well, posting gains in the percentage of students reaching both the goal and proficiency levels.
In related news, the state announced Wednesday that the 2012 high school graduation rate rose to 84.8 percent, an increase of 2.1 percentage points.
The four-year graduation rate for Hispanics was 68.6 percent, a boost of 4.4 percentage points, while the rate for black students -- 73 percent -- marked an increase of 1.8 percentage points.
White students graduated at a rate of 91.3 percent, a rise of 1.9 percentage points over 2011. The state measures cohorts of students over a four-year period.
"There is no doubt that the goal of improving our public schools is one that will be won over the long term," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement.
The Connecticut Council for Education Reform, an advocacy group, also issued a statement Wednesday calling the CAPT scores "marginally less disappointing" than the mastery test results.
The organization noted the widening achievement gap in math and reading between low-income students and their wealthier peers.
The General Assembly has committed $355 million in new funding over the next two years to support school systems and education reform initiatives.
The CAPT was administered to about 42,000 public school 10th-graders in March. Next year, school systems will have the option of taking a new computerized test called Smarter Balanced that is aligned with the rigorous Common Core State Standards being rolled out in English language arts and math.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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