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Sound, Hooker Top New Rankings

by Melissa Bailey | Dec 16, 2013 1:04 pm

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Posted to: Schools, School Reform

Melissa Bailey File Photo No New Haven schools are “excelling.” Two are making enough progress to earn “distinction.”

That’s the conclusion of the state’s new effort to grade schools.
Melissa Bailey Graphic

The state released the rankings on Dec. 5 based on the 2012-13 school year. Check the charts in this story to see how your school fared; and click here for more detailed state reports about all city public schools, as well as New Haven’s public school district.

The state last year piloted the new way of grading schools, called the School Performance Index (SPI), a 100-point scale based on state standardized tests. This year, for the first time, each school was placed into a category on a five-point scale, from “turnaround” to “review” to “transitioning” to “progressing” to “excelling.” The scores are based on test scores, growth on test scores, performance among racial and economic subgroups, and graduation rates. Based on a three-year baseline of scores, the state sets a “target” SPI for each school, then measures its progress against that goal. After the schools were given initial rankings last year, some schools were pulled out and identified as “focus” schools—schools that had the lowest performance in the state for one subgroup of kids, such as black, Latino, special ed or English-language-learning students.

The state’s goal is for all schools to surpass an SPI of 88, which means that all students performed at grade level (at “goal”) on the majority of subjects tested.

The state rankings may guide which New Haven schools are deemed good candidates for state-funded “turnaround” efforts. But they don’t bear significant consequences for the way New Haven is grading students, teachers and schools as part of the local school reform drive.

The state SPI is based on two legacy tests—the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) for grades 3 to 8 and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) for sophomores—that New Haven is abandoning this year in exchange for new tests based on common national standards. The CMT and CAPT have been the standard by which schools were held accountable according to the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Now New Haven is downplaying their importance.

“Overall, given our transition in curricula, we’re putting relatively less stock in the CMTs, and relatively less stock in the SPI, too,” said schools Superintendent Garth Harries on Tuesday.

“As a measure, [the SPI] is still CMT-based,” Harries said. He said New Haven is “focusing on broader set of learning goals that the CMT measures.”

Melissa Bailey Graphic New Haven has its own annual method of grading schools, which takes into account some factors other than tests, such as college persistence of high school graduates. New Haven has not yet rated its schools for the past academic year; it is considering overhauling its grading method to reflect the move away from CMT and CAPT.

Two New Haven schools—Common Ground High, an environmental-themed charter school, and Engineering and Science University Magnet School (ESUMS), a fast-expanding district school now serving grades 6 to 11 —earned distinction in the state’s ratings.

Common Ground and ESUMS both landed on the state’s top 10 list for making the most progress among schools scoring lower than an SPI of 88. ESUMS was graded as a middle school, because its high school hadn’t been around long enough to establish a baseline of scores.

Common Ground was rated as “progressing,” the fourth level of the five-point scale. The score was based on 44 sophomores who took the CAPT, as well as a 90-percent graduation rate for the Class of 2012.

The state has not yet released graduation rates for the Class of 2013; those aren’t expected until next spring or summer, according to Kelly Donnelly, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education.

Click here for an interactive graph showing a breakdown of the Class of 2012 graduation rates, courtesy of Fred Benton, data guru at New Haven Public Schools.

The state rated ESUMS “progressing,” too. The score was based on 249 kids in grades 6 to 8. The school improved its SPI from 82.8 to 87.4, almost near the state goal.

Common Ground and ESUMS serve both about 65 percent New Haven kids, and 35 percent from other towns. The SPI rankings do not include a breakdown of scores based on where kids are from.

No city schools ranked in the top category of the state’s five-point scale. Schools score “excelling” if: They reach an SPI of at least 88; more than 25 percent of students scored “advanced” in a majority of subjects; and the majority of achievement gaps are less than 10 SPI points; and 95 percent of students or higher participated in the tests. For high schools, the graduation rate must be at least 94 percent and the extended graduation rate at least 96 percent. Statewide, 123 elementary and middle schools and 15 high schools scored “excelling.”

Check out how New Haven district schools and charters fared:




Common Ground High School CAPT
Cooperative High School CAPT
Engineering - Science University Magnet School CMT & CAPT
Elm City College Preparatory School CMT
Mauro-Sheridan Magnet School CMT
Nathan Hale School CMT
Ross/Woodward School CMT
Worthington Hooker School CMT


Amistad Academy CMT
Davis 21st Century Magnet Elementary School CMT
Edgewood School CMT
Hill Regional Career High School CAPT
John C. Daniels CMT
Sound School CAPT


Barnard Environmental Magnet School CMT
Benjamin Jepson Magnet School CMT
Bishop Woods School CMT
Celentano School CMT
Christopher Columbus Academy CMT
Clinton Avenue School CMT
Conte/West Hills Magnet School CMT
East Rock Community Magnet School CMT
Fair Haven School CMT
High School In The Community CAPT
Hyde Leadership School CAPT
King/Robinson Magnet School CMT
Lincoln-Bassett School CMT
Metropolitan Business High School CAPT
New Haven Academy CAPT
Quinnipiac School CMT
Strong School KG CMT


Beecher School CMT
John S. Martinez School CMT
Microsociety Magnet School CMT
Truman School CMT
Wexler/Grant Community School CMT

Turnaround Schools

Clemente Leadership Academy CMT
Hill Central Music Academy CMT
James Hillhouse High School CAPT
Katherine Brennan/Clarence Rogers School CMT
Wilbur Cross High School CAPT

*Note: Achievement First Amistad High School didn’t get rated as a whole school. That’s because it technically exists on three separate charters associated with three feeder middle schools: Amistad Academy K to 8, Elm City College Prep, and a sister school in Bridgeport. The state graded the high school in three groups, according to where the kids attended middle school: Kids who hailed from Elm City middle school ranked as a “transitioning” school; those from Amistad ranked as a “focus” school; and the Bridgeport portion rated as “progressing.”

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posted by: ElmCityVoice on December 16, 2013  8:34pm

Congratulations to Common Ground HS. This is an example of a real charter, not a fiefdom. Also congratulations go out to Co-Op HS!

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