Students in New Haven public schools improved in all subjects at all grade levels, according to a recent analysis of the 2002 Connecticut Mastery Test. Average increases in the New Haven public school district include a 5 percent gain in sixth-grade math and a 6 percent gain in sixth-grade writing scores.
The test, which measures reading, writing, and mathematics skills, is administered to all fourth-, sixth- and eighth-grade students in the Connecticut public school system.
“I’m pleased to see this kind of growth across the board,” New Haven Superintendent of Schools Reginald Mayo said in a press release. “This kind of district-wide growth tells us that the reforms we have put in place in the last several years are showing results.”
Mayo applauded such districtwide changes as teacher training programs and an increased monitoring of schools.
The higher test scores in New Haven are part of a modest statewide trend. Connecticut State Education Commissioner Theodore Sergi said overall performance has increased by slightly more than 1 percent, despite changes in the demographics of the students taking the test.
“This relative stability in scores is in the context of increased percentages of students taking the exams including more limited-English-proficient students, special education students, and more students from our cities,” Sergi said in a press release earlier this month.
Despite these improvements, both the state and the city have more progress to make in order to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act, which President Bush signed in January 2002. The law mandates that all students meet the test’s proficiency levels by the 2013-2014 school year.
Only 56 percent of fourth-graders met the state goal in reading, while 21 percent scored low enough to qualify for remedial help.
“We are going to have to step up our annual progress significantly in order to meet the new federal statutory expectations of ‘No Child Left Behind’ in terms of the annual growth in achievement,” Sergi said.
One area Sergi specifically targeted for improvement is the gap between state averages and the scores of poor and minority students.
The participation rate for the state increased from 92 percent in 2000 to 96 percent in 2002 but is somewhat lower in the poorer cites of the state, Sergi said.
Many of New Haven’s public schools actually experienced higher score increases than the average. Woodward Elementary School and Edgewood Magnet School were both highlighted in Sergi’s press release as schools that have made above-average progress.
At Woodward Elementary School, the number of fourth-graders reaching the state’s reading test goal rose by 23 percent, and the number of students at the intervention level decreased by 14 percent.
The percentages of Edgewood Magnet School sixth-graders reaching state goals also increased. Thirty-one percent more students scored at or above the reading goal, 29 percent more scored at or above the writing goal, and 32 percent more scored at or above the mathematics goal.
Like Mayo, William Drago, principal at Woodward Elementary School, attributed his school’s success to the district’s new programs.
“[Our success] is based on the fact that we’re strictly adhering to the district’s initiatives,” Drago said.
Bonnie Pachesa, principal at Edgewood Magnet School, said she thought the practice of “looping” — keeping students with the same teacher in both fifth and sixth grade — was one reason for the higher scores.
Both Pachesa and Drago said the final credit belongs to the teachers.
“I think the district is doing a really good job in training the teachers and providing resources and directives,” Pachesa said.
However, she said the process is continual.
“We always have work to do,” Pachesa said.