SBA Scores Show Little Improvement

The results of the Smarter Balance Assessments for 2017-2018 for the Branford School District show flatline or slightly lower results than previous years.

The tests are designed to measure students’ progress based on Common Core State Standards designed to improve teaching and learning. Tests are given to elementary and middle school students in English Language Arts (ELA) and Math.

District-Wide Results, Growth

Average growth scores represent how much each student reached of their individual expectations.

District-wide, the number of students reaching their individual growth goals has decreased in ELA, from a high of 63 percent in 2015-16, to 55 percent in 2016-17, to 50 percent in 2017-18. The scores are more consistent in Math, ranging from 63 percent in 2015-16 to 60 percent in 2016-17 to 61 percent in 2017-18.

In keeping with results across the state, the percentages of Black and Hispanic students and low-income students reaching grade-level proficiency are lower than for White and Asian students.

The district results here are reported for just for 2017-18. In ELA, Asians, 66 percent; Whites, 57 percent; Hispanics, 38 percent; and Blacks, 32 percent. In Math, Asians, 67 percent; White, 56 percent; Hispanics, 40 percent; Blacks, 28 percent.

As of the end of the 2017-18 school year, 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.

Schools Superintendent Hamlet Hernandez did not return an email or phone calls requesting comments on the scores or updated enrollment numbers.

Branford has been experiencing an increasingly diverse school population, which, according to the district, explains the lagging scores.

Low-income students scored 40 percent of grade-level proficiency in ELA based on whether they receive free or reduced price lunch, while not low-income students scored 62 percent. In math, low-income students scored 39 percent; non low-income, scored 63 percent.

As with population diversity, 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.
Proficiency Breakdown by School

Proficiency represents what percentage of test takers achieved scores that are considered proficient for their grade-level.

Of Branford’s four elementary/intermediate schools, Mary R. Tisko’s scores were highest, Mary T. Murphy’s the lowest, with John B. Sliney and Walsh Intermediate School in the middle. Murphy traditionally has the highest number of students receiving free or reduced cost lunches. Geographically, Tisko serves students in the more affluent areas of town.

ELA scores at Sliney rose slightly to 60 percent in 2017-18. They had reached a high of 68 percent in 2015-16, up from 64 percent in 2014-15, then down to a low of 56 percent in 2016-17.

Math scores at Sliney were more consistent: 67 percent in 2017-18, 63 percent in 2016-17, 68 percent in 2015-16, a 68 percent in 2014-15.

At Tisko, ELA scores reached at high of 76 percent in 2015-16, up from 71 percent in 2014-15. However, they went down to 64 percent in in 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Math scores at Tisko reached a high of 71 percent in 2015-16, a substantial increase from 63 percent in 2014-15. They decreased to 67 percent in 2016-17, but rose slightly to 68 percent in 2017-18.

ELA scores at Murphy were the lowest, at 45 percent in 2017-2018, down from previous years – 53 percent in 2016-17, 56 percent in 2015-16, and 58 percent in 2014-15.

Murphy’s math scores were somewhat consistent, at 60 percent in 2017-18 and 2014-15, then down slightly to 57 percent in 2015-16 and 58 percent in 2016-17.

ELA scores at Walsh decreased substantially in 2017-18 to 54 percent. In 2016-17 and 2015-16, students scored 62 percent, and 63 percent in 2014-15.

Math scores at Walsh were up slightly to 50 percent in 2017-18, from 49 percent in 2016-17, 47 percent in 2015-15, and 43 percent in 2014-15.

In comparison, both the ELA and math scores in Guilford’s three elementary schools were substantial higher – in the 80th or high 70s percentile – among all three years reported.

In East Haven, score were substantially lower in the 40th and 50th percentiles. Some schools scored as low as 20th percentile in math.

Click here to view results from all the schools across the state where students took the SBAs.

Statewide Results

According to the CT Mirror, Black and Hispanic and low income students were two-thirds behind White, Asian, and non-low income students although score rose slightly from 2014-15 to 2017-18. In English, they ranged from the low to mid 30th percentile over that time; in math, they increased from the mid-teens to the low-to-mid 20th percentile

For White, Asian, and non-low income students in English, the average percentage of target achieved was between 56 and 68 percent, depending on the grade. In math, the percentage of target achieved was between 56 and 70 percent for the same group of students.

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