West Hartford’s ‘Report Card’ from the Connecticut State Department of Education was virtually unchanged from last year’s results.
By Ronni Newton
The Connecticut State Department of Education released its “report card” last Friday, giving districts and schools throughout the state a “grade” based on the Next Generation Accountability System, and while the town’s results were virtually unchanged from last year, the West Hartford Public Schools administration said it is pleased with the overall performance.
Paul Vicinus, the assistant superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, said that he will provide a complete report to the Board of Education this spring, but based on his initial analysis, said he is pleased with the town’s performance across the range of indicators.
West Hartford received an overall score of 80.3 percent this year based on data from the 2016-17 academic year, down slightly from the 80.7 percent the town received for the previous year. The overall state index was also relatively stable at 73.2 in 2016-17, a slight uptick compared to 73.1 the previous year.
Aiken Elementary School was named a “School of Distinction” on the basis of high growth performance (top 10 percent) among all students, and Whiting Lane was named a “School of Distinction” based on high growth of its special needs students. Statewide, there were 124 schools earning the distinction out of the 1,493 schools that were rated.
The Next Generation Accountability System was first implemented for the 2014-15 academic year. In a previous report to the Board of Education, Vicinus described the system as “a broad set of 12 indicators that help tell the story of how well a school district is preparing its students for success in college, careers and life. The new system moves beyond test scores and graduation rates to provide a more holistic, multifactor perspective of district and school performance and incorporates student growth over time.”
The measures include academic achievement on state assessments, academic growth, participation in assessment, chronic absenteeism, college and career readiness coursework and exams, percentage of ninth grade on track for graduation, four-year graduation rate for all students and six-year graduation rate for high needs students, post-secondary entrance rate for all students, physical fitness, and arts access.
“Given our previously reported outcomes on state testing and advanced placement exams, we are not surprised to see that our ELA [English Language Arts] performance was generally stable and that our math scores – an area of focus for the district – continued to improve,” said Vicinus.
Math performance among high needs students showed a three-point improvement. ‘We are very excited about that,” Vicinus said.
College and career readiness, based on student access as well as achievement, were also strengths for West Hartford, Vicinus said. The indicator increased from 72 percent to 79.6 percent over the past two years. Advanced Placement as well as vocational coursework is included in that indicator, he said.
Science achievement was stable – down slightly from last year which had been a 10-year high.
“Areas in which we saw some dips relative to accountability metrics included student attendance and ‘on-track’ graduation measures,” Vicinus said. “We are analyzing root causes and discussing these among our leadership teams.”
On a statewide basis, West Hartford remains in the top third of districts statewide, Vicinus said.
“Overall, given the strength of our relative position, we are pleased with our performance and our standing relative to the DRG and the state,” Vicinus said.
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