A Closer Look at West Hartford’s 2008 CAPT Results
Posted by whforums on July 17, 2008
Let’s take a closer look at West Hartford’s 2008 CAPT results in the context of the past 8 years. Many (even some on this site) have a “sky is falling” attitude about WHPS, and as much as I don’t believe test scores are a reflection of quality education, they’re the only real means I have to put that anxiety to the test. So, here’s the guiding question for this post:
Do the CAPT test scores of WHPS support or dispute claims about a school system on the decline?
The table below reflects the students who have reached “Goal” on the CAPT exam in West Hartford over the past 8 years. Keep in mind that “Goal” is the higher level of state achievement — students only need to reach “Proficiency” (a lower score) to pass the exam. Students who achieve “Goal” are high achievers.
The findings? Over the past 8 years, West Hartford has been within 3% of its overall average on CAPT in every year but 2006, which was a “bad” year across the board. The 2008 results fit perfectly into the general 3% hit or miss rule, and represent a slightly “above average” year. The most important thing to notice here: the percentage of students reaching “Goal” in West Hartford has remained remarkably consistent since the year 2000 (you should find a teacher and shake their hand right now). Is the sky falling? Most certainly not.
I was going to run the data on other towns that share a physical border with Hartford (Newington, Bloomfield, Wethersfield, Windsor, East Hartford), but a cursory glance at their numbers show that only Newington and Wethersfield are close to West Hartford’s level of achievement. West Hartford has averaged 64% at goal across the 4 sections of the exam in the last 2 years (right on target with the 63% attained over the last 8 years). Over the same two year period Newington (60%) and Wethersfield (59%) both fall short of West Hartford’s numbers.
Translation? In Hartford’s urban ring, West Hartford holds an eminent educational position.. So let’s take a minute and compare West Hartford’s performance to two towns outside the “urban ring” — Farmington and Glastonbury. Both of these towns almost share a border with Hartford, but don’t quite — West Hartford separates Farmington from Hartford, and East Hartford and Wethersfield (along with the Connecticut River) combine to separate Glastonbury from Hartford (I recognize that I sound like a jerk in this paragraph — and I don’t in the least mean to slam Hartford. Fact is, though, the further you get from any city, within reason, the higher test scores go. At least that’s the idea I’m putting to the “test” here). Here are the 2008 CAPT numbers (percentage of students achieving “Goal”) for West Hartford, Glastonbury and Farmington:
The results? West Hartford, in 2008, held its own against Glastonbury, and gave some ground to Farmington. Across the 4 sections of the exam, West Hartford had 65% of its student at “Goal,” Glastonbury had 69% of its students at “Goal,” and Farmington had 76% of its students at “Goal.” A pretty good performance against the ‘burbs, if you ask me.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t toss in a couple of links. I think the ongoing interest in test score numbers in West Hartford relates directly to our confusion over our own identity (who we are, who we’ve been and who we’re becoming). I tried to tackle that issue a bit here. When I saw “El Toro” and “Cynic” chewing on a that same idea on WH Dad’s site, it seemed important to me to fold the issue of identity into this test score conversation in an explicit way.
And finally — I suck at numbers (I was a philosophy major). If someone sees something I’ve done wrong, or sees a way to improve on these numbers, please let me know.