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Falcone: Grade Cohorts Improve in Standardized Tests

Darien's performance on CMT and CAPT state standardized tests, in which the town did worse than similar Connecticut towns, wasn't as bad when comparing individual cohorts—classes of students scheduled to graduate together—the superintendent said.

Although state standardized showed Darien Public Schools students doing a bit worse than students in similar school districts, Schools Superintendent Stephen Falcone says groups of students in the same grade levels are improving, overall, from year to year.

The "cohorts" — students in the same grades together who are scheduled to graduate the same year — tend to be improving on most tests, Falcone said.

In the Connecticut Mastery Tests, a total of 17 tests were taken in reading, writing, math and science, and most performed better than the same cohort had performed in previous tests on the same subjects, he said. "Year-to-year, it's not bad."

(To explore results yourself, see this official website.)

A percentage point up or down in the testing may only involve a handful of students out of the 300 or so who take the test at each grade level, Falcone said, so a particular cohort with a few more students who are not learning as well can lower the overall average score a bit.

"Over a kind of six- to seven-year period, it's a positive trend," he said.

In the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT), administered to students in Grade 10, he said, Darien students did well in writing but a bit lower in science, "although the math is OK," he said.

Also, he said, "The reading is on the low side." Grade 10 reading scores fell below that of other school systems in District Resource Group A—a group of school districts the state has defined as similar to Darien's—according to state results. "We'll look into that."

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Teachers and administrators dig down into the testing results to see what particular areas of reading, writing, math or science Darien students aren't doing as well in so that educators know where to concentrate their efforts in the future, he said.

At a September meeting of the Board of Education, Falcone and other educators will give the board a detailed report on how Darien students scored on standardized tests, with enough detail that board members will see what areas administrators and teachers want to target for improvement, he said.

Darien's CMT and CAPT results are not the only tests that get examined, he said. School administrators and teachers also review SAT and Advanced Placement exams, other state standardized tests and even final exam results, he said.

Overall, he said, when it comes to mathmatics, Darien students "tend to do well in basic facts, as do a lot of kids in our DRG," he said. "I look at things that might be a little lower, like estimation. We're going to have to dig into this a little bit to see what they call the 'strands of data.'

"This is information that our teachers will use and administrators will use," he continued. "If we have to make adjustments in the program in terms of emphasis, that's something that we'll consider."

Editor's note: See also:

Sidebar: Comparing a Cohort: Class of 2019 in Grades 3 and 5

Here's how the Class of 2019 did in Grade 3 (results from the 2010 CMT) and in Grade 5 (in the 2012 CMT), in Math and Writing:

Class of 2019

CMT Results

Mathematics % at

or above goal

Mathematics

% proficient

Writing

% at or above

goal

Writing

% proficient

Grade 3 (2010) 83.1 95.8 81.8 93.9 Grade 5 (2012) 92.5 97.0 87.5 98.6
Chris August 06, 2012 at 02:09 PM
I think its great that the number of kids not meeting goal is dropping, but judging our schools based on the relative performance of the bottom quartile of students doesn't seem consistent with the aspirations of most folks around here. I don't see the local media celebrating our sports teams that go .500. I'm more inclined to wonder if Darien's top students are being given the opportunity to meet their potential. How many kids ultimately get into the top colleges is more interesting to me. There was a good story about DHS's results a few months ago. Comparing that data with other local high schools would be a good idea for a story.

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