West Hartford Forums

“A candle is enough to light the world”

Archive for the ‘Test Scores’ Category

“The Impossible Will Take a Little While”

Posted by whforums on December 17, 2008

That’s what Billie Holiday said, anyway.

Heard on WTIC today about two young students at Sedgwick who had the courage to turn to a school counselor about abuse at home. Get the gist of the story here.

I don’t want to talk about the specifics of the case because I think doing so does a disservice to the children and to the family, who have enough to work out without comment from the blogosphere.

I guess what I do want to do is use this particular instance to discuss the education that happens between people rather than on Scantron sheets. Nadezhda Mandelstam said that out of great hopelessness comes hope, and this case calls to attention not only the complexities of public education, but the necessity of humanizing that education. We’re pushing for achievement, we’re pushing for test scores — and don’t get me wrong — we should. But what happened between Sedgwick’s walls today underscores a less quantifiable– but more necessarily human — education. These students spoke up at least in part because they knew they had someone in their school to whom they could speak. Someone (and likely many someones) approached their classroom and their school not as a set of potential test scores (don’t get me started on “merit based pay”), but as mutual human beings in need — through and in spite of their mutual flaws. Whether we think they should, our schools carry the imperative of both developing and protecting their students, and they do this best by building relationships with those students. In the hopelessness of abuse (which is a day to day reality for many in WHPS, I’m sure), there is the great hope of our schools — not only the equal access to education they provide, but in the very human attention of our teachers, counselors, staff and administrators. It’s those who are working (too often thanklessly or invisibly) for the good of these kids — and for the good of our present West Hartford and the future West Hartford toward which we peer — who allow us to realize that, as our neighbors suffer, there is also a vigilance against that suffering. Too often we want our schools to be fortresses against our social problems — if not ivory towers, at least ivory ground floors — when we should be attentive to a more basic grounding: in spite of our mutual sufferings, in our schools, we’re not cut off from each other.

Oh. And they’re doing a pretty good job with those test scores, too.

Posted in Abstract Babble, Do I Contradict Myself ...?, gratitude, Test Scores, West Hartford, WHPS | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

West Hartford Posts Competitive SAT Scores for 2008

Posted by whforums on August 31, 2008

The courant has a blog post about the release of 2008 SAT scores, and West Hartford posted SAT scores well above state average. You can access all state scores via a PDF from the State Department of Education here.

The cynics will point out that West Hartford did not score as well as some DRG mates (12th out of 16, though essentially tied for 11th). A look at scores by our DRG:

Avon: 1729
Greenwich: 1711
Madison: 1705
Simsbury: 1703
Glastonbury: 1696
Farmington: 1690
Fairfield: 1666
Guilford: 1623
Newtown: 1619
Granby: 1617
South Windsor: 1604
West Hartford: 1599
New Fairfield: 1570
Brookfield: 1568
Monroe: 1567
Trumbull: 1560
State Average: 1516

.

I would point out that West Hartford outscored every school in its immediate economic subgroup (as measured by free/reduced lunch). A quick look at that group reveals:

West Hartford: 1599
Wethersfield: 1521
Plainville: 1520
State Average: 1516
Newington: 1495

In other words, I reach the same conclusion I reached in this post. The best districts will generally be the moneyed districts (and the districts with the lowest instances of poverty), but when you measure West Hartford against districts with similar poverty rates, our test scores reflect a high quality curriculum that provides a significantly above average college prep education. What’s interesting about these test scores is that the SAT itself is optional, whereas the CAPT is required — I’ll run some numbers at some point this week to investigate how West Hartford stacks up against other districts in terms of encouraging its students to take college entrance examinations.

Posted in SAT Scores, Test Scores, West Hartford, WHPS | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

West Hartford Blog Roundup, Weekend of 7/26

Posted by whforums on July 28, 2008

A pretty interesting weekend in our local “blogosphere.” While I was busy kicking myself for totally missing out on a USGA event in town, here’s what was going on across our other local blogs:

Talk of West Hartford analyzed the relationship between Hartford county test scores and per pupil expenditures, arguing that there is at best a limited relationship between the amount spent per student and the overall quality of a district.

Over at FatMixx, Sujal has an absolutely fantastic post that summarizes the cross-blog conversations about test scores while also adding critical new insight. I wish I could write with such clarity and objectivity — his post is an absolute must read for those interested in the issue of West Hartford test scores and also serves as a great starting point for those looking to enter the conversation.

In an attempt to keep record of the ongoing test score conversation, I updated the CAPT/CMT roundup post (it should contain links to all posts about West Hartford CMT/CAPT scores — if I’m missing something, please email me).

Finally, over at WH Dad’s site, a couple of students have eulogized the friends they lost at Sedgewick this spring (scroll to the bottom of the page for the most recent comments). I really debated whether to link to that post, because the comments that have emerged over the last week are simultaneously public and private. In the end, I decided to link — in part because it’s an important town issue, that, though difficult, needs to be faced. But I also decided to link in part because of how I felt when reading what the students had to say. Human beings have such a remarkable capacity not just for feeling, but for deeply held emotion wed to self-reflection. Say what you will about “people in general” (we’re all walking disasters) but our mutual beauty is sometimes fierce enough to make me start.

Posted in CAPT Scores, CMT Results, Test Scores, Uncategorized, West Hartford | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

One More CAPT Post – Free/Reduced Lunch Eligibility and Hartford County Test Scores

Posted by whforums on July 25, 2008

Ok. So, in general, I’m a pretty open-minded person. And to be honest, I didn’t expect arguments of such conviction surrounding the last set of numbers I ran (where I argued that part of West Hartford’s struggle in its peer DRG group was rooted in a much higher Free/Reduced Lunch ratio). So it got me to thinking – what if I’m wrong? I’ve read several articles about the impact of poverty on school success, and I’ve talked to teachers who have told me about the impact of poverty on school success. But what did I have to go on besides those things – especially when it came to making claims about West Hartford and its DRG?

So, here’s what I did. I took all of the towns in Hartford county (minus Marlborough and Burlington, which share high schools with towns from other counties – and also minus Hartland, who I couldn’t find CAPT numbers for) and found their Free/Reduced Lunch eligibility rate for 06-07 (the most recent numbers available). I then found their 2008 CAPT average at “Goal” (the average percentage of students who met the high achievement rate of “Goal” across the four sections of the exam).

That allowed me to produce the chart below. I color coded it as a stoplight:

Red: More than 20% of students eligible for Free/Reduced.
Yellow: Between 10 and 20% of students eligible for Free/Reduced.
Green: Fewer than 10% of students eligible for Free/Reduced.

The Findings?

As far as the 2008 CAPT Exam in Hartford County goes, there is a definite correlation between percentage of students eligible for free/reduced lunch and percentage of students reaching “Goal” on CAPT.

Several things:

1. In this extremely limited sample, there is a correlation between poverty and test scores that at the very least implies that the consequences of poverty conspired to have a negative impact on standardized testing in Hartford County in 2008. This should not be misunderstood as the statement “the poor can’t learn.” It should be understood to imply the broader argument that, generally speaking, students in poverty face specific social and psychological consequences that may create an uneven educational terrain. Initiatives like Project Choice may temper some of the interpersonal consequences of poverty and may have a positive impact on test scores, but I have no data to defend or challenge that assertion, nor is an examination of that assertion the purpose of this post.

2. Not a single “red” district outperformed a “Green” district, though Bristol came close. (I know I write about Bristol a lot. I don’t know why).

3. West Hartford outperformed every other “Yellow” district and 3 “Green” districts. Also of note: West Hartford finished within 4 CAPT percentage points of Glastonbury, despite a 9% higher rate of Free/Reduced eligibility. If you go in the opposite direction, Enfield, which had a 9% higher rate of Free/Reduced eligibility than West Hartford, finished 26% lower on the CAPT.

4. I’m extremely interested in two pieces of data, if anyone has them:

a. How does poverty spread itself across West Hartford’s elementary schools, and how does it reflect itself in elementary CMT scores?

b. How do West Hartford students eligible for Free/Reduced lunch perform against students eligible for Free/Reduced lunch in other districts?

5. As I think should be obvious, taken as individuals, “rich kids” will door poorly and “poor kids” will do well – in school and on this exam. My argument is strictly about probability and how that probability plays out in the gross generality of a district’s test scores.

Please Understand That I’m Not Arguing That:

1. Free/Reduced lunch eligibility is anything more than one indicator of a district’s potential success.

2. I am not arguing that there is a direct relationship between Free/Reduced lunch eligibility and the overall quality of a district. To judge this one indicator, someone good at math would need to look at the rate of Free/Reduced lunch and compare it to the overall score. This might begin to separate over and underperforming districts. However, it seems self-evident to me from the color coding that, according to this one indicator, West Hartford is overperforming.

Admitted Limitations

1. I know very little about statistics. All I did was take the average of the 4 “Goal” scores on the 2008 CAPT to produce an average “Goal” score for each district. I welcome any revisions to these numbers from someone who knows more about what they’re doing than I do.

2. In some districts, students did very poorly on one section or very well on another section, and this skews numbers. For all I know, a whole district was coming down with the flu the morning of the math section.

3. I do know one thing about statistics – small sample sizes are bad. I openly grant this is a small sample size – but it’s the biggest sample size I have time to run numbers on. I might cobble together numbers over the previous 8 years, but that’s a project that would take at least a month (if not more) to complete. For this reason, I’ve tried to limit my claims to arguments about the 2008 CAPT results in Hartford County exclusively (while allowing for a few broader implications).

4. These numbers do not reflect “Proficiency” or passing rate – they only reflect the high achieving numbers at “Goal.” I have absolutely no idea if a “Proficiency” chart would look the same as the one above (though every instinct I have says it would look similar).

5. There’s no way (that I know of) to control for district size in these numbers. West Hartford is a large district – you would think it would be easier to identify struggling students in smaller districts (and you would think it would also be easier to get them the resources they need). I could be totally wrong about that, too.

________________________________

Regardless, with the one indicator of Free/Reduced lunch eligibility in mind, I stand by my prior claim that to compare West Hartford’s test scores exclusively with more affluent districts is not a fair way to judge the success of our teachers, students, curricula or system.


Note: I’m providing these statistics to spark conversation, and because I think they’re interesting. There’s every chance I’ve messed something up, or done something remarkably “statistics stupid,” so please don’t treat them as fact or truth. I welcome ways to make these numbers work “better.”

Posted in CAPT Scores, Test Scores, West Hartford, WHPS | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

CAPT and CMT Roundup

Posted by whforums on July 21, 2008

Over the past week, the focus of the West Hartford “blogosphere” has been on the release of 2008 CAPT and CMT scores. And despite the many disagreements about the scores and how they can/should be interpreted, one things seems pretty clear: the town of West Hartford is significantly invested in the question of education.

In the spirit of conversation (and in the spirit of that investment), here’s a centralized resource for the many conversations about West Hartford’s 2008 CAPT and CMT scores.

A * indicates a newish post.

CAPT Scores

West Hartford Forums has two posts on CAPT scores — an initial score report and a closer look at West Hartford CAPT score trends over the past 8 years.

* West Hartford Forums took one last shot at CAPT scores, drawing a correlation between a district’s percentage of free/reduced lunch eligibility and their 2008 CAPT performance.

The commenters on WH Dad have a pretty interesting ongoing conversation about the implications of this year’s CAPT scores.

Talk of West Hartford has a consolidated post that discusses both CMT and CAPT scores, arguing that although West Hartford has good scores, the scores aren’t good enough

CMT Scores

West Hartford Forums has a post on the initial release of CMT scores, as well as a post that argues that measuring West Hartford’s CMT scores against other members of its District Reference Group may be misleading.

Talk of West Hartford has a post on CMT/DRG that argues that West Hartford’s poor performance in its DRG is a result of curricular failures.

* Talk of West Hartford has pulled together some interesting data that seeks to establish a relationship between CMT scores and per-pupil expenditures.

A good place to start if you’re looking to understand the definition of DRG …

Other Posts

Fatmixx has an interesting post about the quality of our conversations around CAPT/CMT, asking the important question: Are we talking to each other, or are we just making noise?

*Fatmixx also has a fracking great post that attempts to synthesize several of the ongoing conversations about the budget and test scores.  If there’s one post to read in all of our conversations, this is the one.

The Greater Hartford Real Estate Blog has an excellent post (and a fracking cool graph) about the relationship between CMT scores and the value of your home.

I’ll do the best I can to keep this updated — if I’ve missed a link, please email to whforums@gmail.com

Posted in CAPT Scores, CMT Results, Test Scores, West Hartford, WHPS | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

A Closer Look at West Hartford’s 2008 CMT Results: The Problem with DRG

Posted by whforums on July 18, 2008

Well, West Hartford, the news on the 2008 CMT scores is not only mixed, but there’s so much data available that the news is really spinnable. So I’m going to present you with two different scenarios by which to measure West Hartford’s CMT results and you can make up your own mind about what the results themselves mean.

Sorting by DRG

DRG stands for “District Reference Groups,” and it’s a way for the state to compare school districts that are roughly equal in terms of things like “Parents’ education” and “Home Langauge” and “Median Family Income.” There are 9 DRGs in Connecticut, ranging from A-I (“A” being wicked affluent, “I” being wicked poor). West Hartford is grouped in DRG B with the K-12 districts of Avon, Brookfield, Chester, Fairfield, Farmington, Glastonbury, Granby, Greenwich, Guilford, Madison, Monroe, New Fairfield, Newtown, Simsbury, South Windsor and Trumbull.

The bad news? West Hartford did not fare well against its state-assigned DRG colleagues in the CMTs this year. Across every section of every CMT test, West Hartford students failed to meet DRG average (although it’s important to keep in mind that they still blew away state average). The table below shows the percentage of West Hartford students who met “Goal” (the highest level of achievement) on each section of the exam, followed by the percentage of students in DRG B who met “Goal” on that section. The numbers that follow show West Hartford’s rank on each section of the exam (out of the 17 districts).

For example, the score 71%/81% 15/17 would mean that 71% of West Hartford students met “Goal,” 81% of DRG B students met “Goal,” and West Hartford’s rank out of the 17 DRG B districts was 15th. Make sense?

Some Concerns about Measuring by DRG

Clearly, these numbers don’t look good, despite the fact that each of our “Goal” percentage numbers is well above state average. But I would also argue that these percentages and rankings are extremely misleading for two reasons.

First, of these 17 K-12 districts, West Hartford is the second largest (behind Fairfield), and, frankly, no one else is really close. Almost 700 West Hartford 8th graders took the CMTs (almost 730 in Fairfield). Compare this to Avon (305 testers), Brookfield (255 testers) and Guilford (307 testers). Several other towns had fewer than half the number of students taking the CMTs than did West Hartford.

Second, since average income is a significant factor in grouping these districts, you would expect free and reduced lunch, a traditional way to measure the affluence of a given district, to be roughly equivalent between the districts. Surprisingly (or not so surprisingly), there is simply no comparison between West Hartford and these other towns. In fact, of the 17 districts, only one district in the 2006-2007 school year (the most recent stats I could find) had even half of the percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunch that West Hartford did.

Measuring by Free/Reduced Lunch Percentages

So, finally then, what happens if you compare West Hartford against those districts that are closest to it in terms of the % of students eligible for free and reduced lunch? I’ve taken the 8 towns closest to West Hartford in terms of that % (the four closest with a higher % and the four closest with a lower %) and averaged all of their 07-08 CMT scores (each exam at each grade level) to create one “Average % at Goal” score.

The result? When measured not by income, but rather by the percentage of children who can’t afford lunch (and thus by the percentage of families at a specifically low-income level), West Hartford finishes only behind the town of Wolcott (who, incidentally, tested only 35% of the 8th graders West Hartford tested).

My horrifically superficial read? There are two West Hartfords, and to measure West Hartford against towns which are almost exclusively affluent will of course cast our test scores in a negative light. Which brings me back to the drum I’ve been banging … Who are we? Who have we been? Who are we becoming?

Note: I’m providing these statistics to spark conversation, and because I think they’re interesting. There’s every chance I’ve messed something up, or done something remarkably “statistics stupid,” so please don’t treat them as fact or truth. I welcome ways to make these numbers work “better.”
Free/Reduced Lunch Source: http://www.csde.state.ct.us/public/cedar/profiles/index.htm#g
CMT Score Source: http://solutions1.emetric.net/cmtpublic/Index.aspx

Posted in CMT Results, Test Scores, West Hartford, WHPS | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

2008 Connecticut Mastery Test Results Released for West Hartford

Posted by whforums on July 18, 2008

It must be that time of year, huh?

Below are the percentage of West Hartford students who met “Goal” (the highest level of achievement possible)/the state average who met “Goal.”

For example, 65/52 would mean “65% of WH students at Goal, 52% of state students at Goal.”

The science exam is new this year and was only taken by students in grades 5 and 8.

Grade Math Reading Writing Science             
3 72/60 65/52 76/64 N/A
4 72/61 71/56 71/63 N/A
5 79/66 72/62 75/65 63/55
6 79/67 75/66 74/62 N/A
7 76/63 83/71 73/62 N/A
8 73/61 76/65 75/63 71/59

.

My first reactions — West Hartford appears to run about 10% higher than the state average across all sections of this exam and across all grade levels, which is no small thing.  And man can our 7th graders read!

A more detailed analysis later in the day.  We’ll look at West Hartford’s test results by DRG (District Reference Group — a system devised by the state to create “common” school districts) and one other measure.

Posted in CMT Results, Test Scores, West Hartford, WHPS | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

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.

.

Year Math Science Reading Writing
Average % at Goal                
2001 61% 68% 66% 65% 65%
2002 58% 63% 60% 62% 61%
2003 56% 61% 61% 65% 61%
2004 60% 66% 64% 60% 63%
2005 62% 69% 65% 67% 66%
2006 58% 61% 59% 59% 59%
2007 57% 64% 62% 68% 63%
2008 59% 65% 64% 70% 65%
8 Year Avg 59% 65% 63% 65% 63%

T.

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:

.

Town Math Science Reading Writing
West Hartford 59% 65% 64% 70%
Glastonbury 74% 69% 64% 70%
Farmington 77% 70% 72% 85%

.

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.

Source: http://www.csde.state.ct.us/public/cedar/profiles/index.htm#go

Posted in capt, CAPT Scores, Test Scores, West Hartford, WHPS | Tagged: , , | 8 Comments »

2008 CAPT Test Results for West Hartford

Posted by whforums on July 15, 2008

The 2008 scores have been released.

Year Math Science Reading Writing
2008 Scores 59.3 64.6 64.0 69.8
2007 Scores 56.8 63.9 62.0 68.3
State Average Scores 50.2 46.5 45.5 57.8

.

Here is how West Hartford compares to the 10th best (10th from top) and 10th worst (10th from bottom) on each part of the exam:

Town Math Science Reading Writing
West Hartford 59.3 64.6 64.0 69.8
10th Best 82.2 (Simsbury) 75.8 (Canton) 78.4 (Guilford) 87.4 (Wilton)
10th Worst 24.5 (West Haven) 23.6 (Meriden) 22.0 (Putnam) 33.2 (East Hartford)

.

Perform your own analysis as you will, but a superficial read suggests that West Hartford is performing well above average, with improving scores that are much closer to the top ten than the bottom ten.

Get a closer look at West Hartford’s 2008 CAPT scores here.

Posted in CAPT Scores, Test Scores, West Hartford | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

West Hartford’s Emergent Identity

Posted by whforums on July 8, 2008

I think that, if you asked a random sampling of West Hartford residents what other towns West Hartford should compare itself to (in terms of education and other public services), the answer would probably be “Avon (who I think we’re taking to the referenda dance), Farmington (who also had two referenda) and Simsbury.” Our self-conception has been (and I think largely still is) suburban. Yet in the past two days I’ve seen West Hartford compared to very different towns and cities.

In making a brief but suggestive argument for regionalization, Hartford Magazine grouped West Hartford with Hartford, East Hartford, Bloomfield and Wethersfield.

On the Bristol Blog, the town of Bristol says it’s stepping away from its usual band of brothers – Middletown, East Hartford and Norwich, to compare itself to West Hartford (who it compared to Southington). If West Hartford still assumes the prior comparisons for Bristol, we find ourselves in context with Middletown and, once again, East Hartford.

SAT scores from the past 5 years (found on the state’s site) suggest West Hartford’s best “test score comparisons” (I more than willingly grant that test scores are a poor measure of educational quality) are RHAM (Hebron/Andover/Malborough), Canton, and Bolton (with excellent average test scores, but still scores that are well behind those in Avon, Simsbury and Farmington). But these – RHAM, Canton and Bolton — are all more rural areas, with a different set of strengths and a different set of problems than West Hartford.

So, that’s a long way of asking – where are we at, West Hartford? We know who we’ve been, and we know our “reputation,” but who are we today, and who are we becoming? And what other towns, going forward, do we fairly compare ourselves with?

I’d start the conversation this way: West Hartford remains a generally wealthy — but extraordinarily stratified — suburb, situated to maintain if not regain its reputation for education, especially as gas prices rise and people look to move closer Hartford. I’d compare it most closely to Glastonbury (which, incidentally, seems entirely devoid of blogs) — a suburb with a reputation for good schools and good eats that also deals with issues of economic stratification.

Posted in Abstract Babble, Test Scores | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »