This year’s SAT scores released by the state Department of Education revealed a 3 percent drop – from 65.4 percent to 62.4 percent – in the number of 11th grade students who met or exceeded the standard for college and career readiness in the reading and writing portions of the test, which is administered to high school students.
There was a marginal increase in math scores, but only 40.3 percent of students meet or exceed the standards; that number has remained stable.
Branford’s scores were on par with the state’s, but lower than Guilford’s and higher than East Haven’s.
Scores are compiled on four levels: Level 1 – not meeting the standards; Level 2 – approaching; Level 3 – met; and Level 4 – exceeded. Students are considered college- and career-ready if they scored at least 480 out of 800. Students who were far short of the threshold (by at least 170 points) are considered level 1.
Based on a score of 800, students are considered college- and career-ready if they score at least 480 in English and 530 in math.
Branford’s scores in English closely reflect the state’s average; 217 students were tested. Sixty-two percent met or exceeded the standard (a combination of Level 3 – 48 percent – and Level 4 – 14 percent); 19 percent tested at Level 1 and 19 percent at Level 2.
State results are as follows: Level 1, 20 percent and Level 2, 18 percent. Level 3 at 45 percent and Level 4 at 17 percent combined show 62 percent of those who met or exceeded the standard.
The graphic here shows that Branford’s scores in English and Math increased from 2015-16 to 2016-17, while the number of those “severely behind” decreased.
An Increasingly Diverse School Population
Statistics over the years point out that the test results of minorities and students from low-income families were far behind state averages.
In his State of Schools presentation in June, Superintendent of Schools Hamlet Hernandez acknowledged that there is work to be done, citing the changing demographics of the school population.
Hernandez said that the current enrollment is 2,892, but the demographics are changing. The most recent stats show the following: 2,183 White; 308 Hispanic/Latino of any race; 209 Asian; 110 Black; 74 two or more races; 8 American Indian; and 0 Pacific Islander.
He also said there’s been an increase in the number of students receiving free and reduced lunches, which now stands at 34 percent, and an increase in high needs students, to 39.2 percent. English Language Learners are 4.3 percent of the school population.
There’s “good performance” despite those numbers, he said during his report.
Scores also reflect the fact that not all students who take the SAT are college bound. Amid concerns about over-testing, the Smarter Balance Assessment was eliminated in favor of the SAT for high school juniors.
In contrast, Guilford’s combined score for Level 3 and 4 (met or exceeded readiness) in English is 87 percent. The breakdown is as follows: Level 1, 4 percent; Level 2, 10 percent; Level 3, 46 percent; and Level 4, 41 percent. A total of 268 students were tested.
In math, the combined Level 3 and 4 scores for Guilford students totaled 62 percent, with the following breakdown: Level 1, 6 percent; Level 2, 30 percent; Level 3, 34 percent; and Level 4, 29 percent.
Although Guilford’s scores showed a decrease in English and math from the previous two years, there was only a couple of percentage points difference.
In East Haven, where 197 students were tested, the combined total for readiness in English was 49 percent, with the following breakdown: Level 1, 29 percent; Level 2, 22 percent; Level 3, 44 percent; and Level 4, 5 percent. This was a decrease from the previous two years, in particular a four-point decrease in English scores.
East Haven’s math scores were very low, although they increased by about 3 percent over the previous two years. Just 21 percent met or exceed readiness standards (there were no Level 3 and 4 scores reported), while 49 percent students were at Level 1 (not meeting standards) and 45 percent were at Level 2 (approaching standards).