In the state’s most recent mandatory standardized test for tenth graders, New Haven students, along with the rest of the state, scored well below state goals.

Less than half of the state’s 40,000 10th graders who took the mandatory Connecticut Academic Performance Test last May fulfilled state goals, according to results released last month by the state Department of Education. There will be no immediate repercussions from the low scores. Officials attribute the results to a new, more difficult test but note that the overall trend in past years has been a steady improvement.

In New Haven, 20 percent of students reached state goals in reading, 24 percent in writing, 13 percent in math, and 12 percent in science. Although the updated version of the test makes any comparisons difficult, New Haven’s scores were virtually unchanged from last year.

“We’ve made every attempt to establish an equivalent assessment so that we would not place too much burden on the shoulders of teachers and students but at the same time keep the goal high,” Department of Education spokesman Tom Murphy said.

The city’s school system is pleased with the progress it has been able to make, said New Haven schools spokeswoman Catherine Sullivan-DeCarlo. New Haven has been pouring more resources into building reading and writing skills through increased staff development and more time spent on instruction in those areas. She added that fewer students are scoring in the failing range in these tests.

Murphy said the state’s urban areas were improving at a faster rate than other areas. New Haven fared better than the state’s other large cities, including Hartford, Bridgeport and Waterbury. In the reading, writing, math and science tests, Hartford’s percentage of students meeting state goals were 9 percent, 17 percent, 8 percent and 7 percent, respectively.

“It’s suggested that students don’t take the CAPT seriously because there aren’t consequences, but there are,” Murphy said.

In its last session in the spring of 2001, the state legislature resolved to require the boards of education in Connecticut’s 166 districts to review their policies on allowing students to graduate. As of Sept. 1 this year, the boards will be able to use a variety of criteria, including the CAPT, to determine if a student should be allowed to graduate.

The city also uses its own standardized tests to gauge students. In addition to the tenth-grade CAPT, the state also mandates tests for fourth, sixth and eighth graders.

“We’re going to keep the standard, the goal very high –” Murphy said. “It has to be done — we can’t accept less.”