The Farmington Board of Education reviewed the 2012 Connecticut Mastery Test and Connecticut Academic Performance Test results Tuesday night, finding mixed results and some caveats.
First, administrators noted that the CMT and CAPT tests, to which school districts across the state look to define achievement and curriculum, will soon be phased out. The tests will be replaced with the Smarter Balanced Assessment program in 2014-15, with some districts piloting the program in 2014. The new assessments will likely mirror the Common Core State Standards, adopted in 2010 to be implemented in 2014.
Farmington has already shifted its math curriculum to reflect the Common Core State Standards, beginning this year. And administrators are encouraging teachers not to worry if scores dip a little in the meantime.
“Our curriculum is shifting. Even though we’re taking CMT and CAPT in the spring, we have to think beyond that and make small shifts to common core,” Superintendent Kathleen Greider said Tuesday.
In the meantime, this year’s scores, overall, are good.
“We are consistently among the top 10 in Connecticut, so we should always be critical of ourselves and say what do we have to do next but we also have to celebrate the success of this district. When you look at our achievement results compared to our spending in certain areas, it’s even more impressive,” Greider said.
The results show a steady improvement across the board over the past 20 years, Greider said. Then, scores were in the 60 percentile and district administrators hoped to get into the 90s. Now, CMT scores consistently range in the mid-80s to mid-90s.
Assistant Superintendent Kim Wynn noted the district has some concerns about gender gaps, specifically in writing in the early grades, when girls outperform boys by 9 percent. But, she said, the gap shrinks by eighth grade.
Farmington High School Principal Tim Breslin said the school saw its highest scores ever last year, with a slight dip this year and 58.4 percent of all students meeting goal.
“These results are not what we’d like them to be; they’re somewhat mixed,” Breslin said. “We like to think that these are numbers, with human beings behind all this and there is good news for a lot of kids and not so good news for some kids.”
A disproportionate number of those kids for whom the news is not good are boys.
“We’re worried about gender. We’re generally happy. Our boys are doing really well in math, consistent with the state or a little better in science, reading is consistent with the state, but there is a gap,” Breslin said. “We’re worried about how it impacts our kids. I just think about the kids who are not doing well and what it portends for them.”
Wynn said Farmington High School administrators and teachers are working to identify those students who may need interventions upon arriving at the high school, using PowerSchool and in conjunction with lower-grade teachers. Breslin said the school administration is also focused on getting kids to feel connected and engaged, which he said is an important factor in success.
At the elementary level, Wynn explained, reading recovery and literacy and math specialists play a huge role in helping students succeed on the tests.