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ESUMS Makes A Splash
by Melissa Bailey | Aug 14, 2013 10:32 am
Posted to: Schools
The city’s new science-themed magnet school burst onto the scene with high test scores, leading the school district in reading, according to new state standardized tests.
The scores came out Tuesday, amid questions about the relevancy of the tests, given the district’s upcoming switch to a new way of testing and teaching kids. Despite those questions, educators and parents will be carefully combing the results in upcoming weeks.
Overall, New Haven school district scores dropped on the Connecticut Mastery Test for grades 3 to 8, following a statewide trend, and rose on the Connecticut Academic Performance Test for high school sophomores. Scores are typically analyzed based on the number of students scoring at or above “proficient” and the number scoring at or above “goal,” a higher standard that equates to “at grade level.”
Here’s a closer look at how New Haven traditional schools and charters fared:
New test scores will serve as a basis for the city’s effort to grade teachers, principals and schools. Superintendent Garth Harries said all analyses will look at performance in comparison to other similar teachers and schools in the district.
Harries payed close attention to how the city’s four “turnaround” K-8 schools fared. At those schools, the district launched experiments aimed at reversing years of failure by replacing staff, changing management, and in some cases extending the school day.
By comparison to their peers, three of the four “turnaround” K-8 schools did well on the tests. While scores sank citywide and statewide, Brennan/Rogers School showed a 6.3 percent increase in the number of kids scoring “at goal”; Hill Central improved by 2.7 percent.
After a disappointing first year, another turnaround school, Roberto Clemente, showed two-point gains in the number of kids scoring “at goal” and “proficient” on standardized tests last year. Clemente just finished the second year of a turnaround effort run by a private management company, New Jersey-based charter operator Renaissance Management LLC, funded by a $2.5 million federal School Improvement Grant.
All of those schools remain far behind their peers in performance: 20.4 percent of kids at Clemente scored “at goal” on the tests; 28.6 percent did at Brennan/Rogers; and 23.1 percent did at Hill Central. The districtwide average is 40 percent.
Harries said the gains are a “confirmation” of the city’s work to overhaul failing schools through turnaround efforts.
One turnaround school, Wexler/Grant, didn’t fare as well: The school saw a 7.6 percent drop in the number of kids scoring “at goal,” landing at 22.3 percent. Harries noted that unlike the other three turnarounds, which received multi-million School Improvement Grants, Wexler/Grant took on higher expectations without extra resources.
Troup School and Clinton Avenue School also saw significant declines in scores.
Columbus School and Ross/Woodward showed modest gains, which Harries called laudable given the statewide decline on the tests.
Traditional High Schools
Five out of nine New Haven high schools improved across all subjects (math, reading, writing and science) at the goal level, two had mixed results, and two declined, according to the school district.
One rising star was Engineering & Science University Magnet School (ESUMS), which is growing its student body each year until it serves grades 6 to 12. Last year was the first time ESUMS had a sophomore class, so it was the school’s first experience with CAPT.
ESUMS led the district in reading on the number of kids scoring “proficient” in reading, 82.5 percent. Sixty-three kids took the reading test. On the “at goal” measurement, ESUMS ranked just behind Sound School, Co-op, and Hill Regional Career. In math, 44.4 percent of ESUMS sophomores scored “at goal” or above, just a couple of points behind Sound School, the city’s top-performing high school.
Sound School led the district overall, with 85.8 percent of kids scoring “proficient” across all subjects and 44.2 percent of kids scoring at goal.
Metropolitan Business Academy and Hill Regional Career High showed strong improvement: The number of kids scoring at goal across all subjects rose from 16.9 to 26.2 percent at Metro and from 30.4 to 38.3 percent at Career.
The city’s two comprehensive high schools lagged far behind the magnet high schools. The number of Hillhouse High kids scoring at goal across all subjects stayed flat, at 10.9 percent; Wilbur Cross’s scores sank from 18.5 to 15.9 percent.
Scores at Hyde sank from 15.5 percent to 8.0 percent. Reading scores showed a red flag: Zero of 48 kids scored “at goal,” compared to 19.8 percent citywide and 48.5 percent statewide. Harries noted that Hyde now has a new principal and a new location.
High School in the Community, a union-run turnaround, posted gains: Read about that here.
Amistad Academy Elementary School, which is run by the Achievement First charter network, saw declines in 3rd-grade performance that mirrored a trend across the state.
Elm City College Prep, Achievement First’s other elementary school in New Haven, saw gains that bucked that statewide trend and shot kids ahead of state averages.
In the third grade, the number of Elm City kids scoring “at goal” in math rose by 2.5 points to 69.8, far above the state average of 61.6. In reading, “at goal” scores jumped from 50.9 to 64.2 percent, far ahead of the statewide average of 56.9 percent. Fifty-three kids took the tests, which was comparable to the prior year.
AF Amistad High School, also run by Achievement First, saw slight declines in math and reading and a slight increase in writing.
The number of kids reading “goal” fell from 55 to 53 percent in math; fell from 47 to 46 percent in reading; and rose from 84 to 85 points in writing. The sample size was 84 to 86 kids.
The writing scores were so high that Amistad kids outperformed affluent districts like Fairfield and Greenwich and outperforming the state average by 23 points, Achievement First noted in a press release.
Common Ground, an environmental-themed charter high school in West Rock, boasted gains on the CAPT.
“The percent of students reaching “proficient” rose in every subject but reading, including a 17-point gain in math and an 18-point gain in science,” wrote the school in a press release. “Students’ proficiency scores in writing (97.7 percent) and reading (81.4 percent) surpassed the state average for the third straight year, and math (76.7 percent) and science (79.1 percent) scores increased to within 2 to 3 points of the state average. In writing, student scored nearly 9 points above the state average.”
Common Ground reversed declines in math and science in part by adding tutors to every math classroom, according to the school. “When students struggled with a math skills in class, they were assigned to after-school support that very same day. Teachers worked to integrate meaningful, real-world math challenges across the curriculum – from cooking in pre-algebra to calculating the volume of a compost pile in Calculus,” according to a release.
The number of Common Ground kids reaching “goal” rose by double digits in every subject: by 18 points (to 27.9 percent) in math, by 15 points (to 39.5 percent) in science, by 14 points (to 39.5 percent) in reading, and by 25 points (to 61.4 percent) in writing, according to the school’s calculations.
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ESUMS just keeps getting better every year. If you are a New Haven resident with a rising 6th grader, there may still be a few slots open for the fall. You can call the magnet office or the school directly—a good opportunity to attend a school that is on its way to being the best in town.
This is an important article.
I am very familiar with Common Ground High School. It is a community of learners, professionals, and parents who work together for the kids.
There should be a picture of the school under “Kid’s First” in the dictionary.
NHPS could duplicate this strategy to boost achievement across the board. But it will take a complete revamping of management to implement such a bottom-up vision.
I hope the new blood at NHPS will put their egos aside and see the error of the old top-down dictatorship and go with innovation from below.
We need to replace “Adults First” with “Kid’s”