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Monroe Students' Scores Yield Mixed Results

Results for the CMT, CAPT, AP, SAT and ACT are all in.

Monroe students excelled in the Connecticut Mastery Test with the percentage meeting proficiency in the low to high 90's; and the mean score for graduates taking the SAT was 543 in math — the highest in Masuk High School history. But not all standardized test results show a rosy picture. For instance, 10th graders struggled with the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT), which included ranking dead last among towns in their District Reference Group in science.

Students' performance in standardized tests yielded a mix of good news and bad news. Assistant Supt. of Schools John Battista and Sheila Casinelli, director of curriculum and instruction for the district, shared it all in a presentation to the Board of Education on Monday night.

After the presentation, Supt. of Schools James Agostine said, "We have some things to be proud of tonight, particularly with the CMT scores, college placements and the number of students being accepted to most competitive colleges."

On the areas for improvement, Agostine said, "We have a lot of work to do to get there, but its work we relish and are getting started on."

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Casinelli said administrators always examine the data while working on curriculum as part of the plan to improve student performance.

Results for the CMT, CAPT, AP, SAT and ACT will be available on Monroe Public Schools' website Tuesday morning.

Excelling on the CMT

While percentages of students in grades 3-8 showed proficiency in the CMT in the 90's, those performing "At or Above Goal" were mostly in the 80's. Battista said educators are not satisfied with the latter result.

One notable exception in the "At or Above Goal" category included a 94.4% in reading for eighth graders.

The CMT tests students in reading, writing, math and science. In most cases, Monroe grades showed steady improvement over the years in meeting goal. Classes also compared well among their DRG.

Among the highlights, Monroe fourth graders were number one in mathematics among students from the other 19 school districts in their DRG with 92.4% meeting goal. And eighth grade ranked fourth in science with 87.6 percent meeting goal.

There was bad news for sixth graders when compared to their counterparts on the CMT. The grade was near the bottom of the DRG in reading, writing and math — including third-to-the-last in reading.

The CAPT

Tenth graders performed poorly overall on the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) and administrators said that particular class of students has struggled on standardized tests over the years.

While 92.3 percent were At or Above Proficiency in math, that average was lower than every Monroe class that took the CAPT going back to 2007. The same goes for the 64.9 percent At or Above Goal in math.

On a positive note, the 10th grade scored higher than last year's class in reading and writing.

Compared to other districts in their DRG, Monroe's class was near the bottom in every category, including dead last in science, second to the last in writing and third to the last in math.

The SAT

Masuk graduates taking the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) had a mean score of 543 in math, 516 in critical reading and 522 in writing. Though graduates enjoyed the highest math score in town history, there was a drop off of 11 points in reading and 15 points in writing from last year.

Battista said one factor that could drive down Masuk's average is that, while some districts discourage students with poor PSAT scores from taking the SAT, Masuk teachers never discourage students with aspirations for college from taking the test.

While the average of high school graduates taking the SAT in Connecticut was 83%, the percentage of Masuk graduates was 92. Masuk also continues to have the lowest high school dropout rate.

Masuk grads taking the ACT had an average score of 23.3 in English (compared to 23.9 for the state), 23.6 in math (23.8 for the state), 23 in reading (23.9 in the state) and 22.7 in science (23.2 for the state).

The percentage of Monroe students scoring a 3 or higher on the AP exam was 73% for the 260 who took the test.

D. Sickles October 02, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Year after year of budget reductions are not doing anything to help students who need extra support. These results should come as no surprise.
Walt October 02, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Absolutely correct, more money always equals better testing results. Just look at Bridgeport, Hartford, Waterbury. Every dime should go to the teachers, err uh, school system.
Lani October 02, 2012 at 12:26 PM
And here I was thinking quite the opposite.
jim laguardia October 02, 2012 at 12:35 PM
As others have said in the past, there should be more emphasis on what this years 10th graders did compared to last year when they were in 9th grade etc... Not compared to what this years 11th graders did.... In other words did they improve from last year or go down??
Sheila D October 02, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Jim, according to the broadcast, these 10th graders (now 11th graders), have been struggling all along and have test scores on the lower side each year.
Deborah Strumpf October 02, 2012 at 12:52 PM
Jim is right. But let's do one better. Stop the insane amount of testing and teach our children how to think. I'm going through the process of college applications with my second child and guess what? Not only do most colleges not look at the writing section at all of the coveted SAT, most are offering test optional choices (additional essay, submitted graded paper, interview). Guess what they care about? Grades and rigor course load. The one damn thing that does not translate to the standardized tests our kids are put through year after year. Teach my kids how to think. Not how to test. And PLEASE stop equating money and test results. You know what you can equate? Ability to take a stupid test and test results.
Herman M October 02, 2012 at 01:28 PM
@Walt - the cities you mention have issues such as poverty that are not present in Monroe. You cannot make valid comparisons.
D. Sickles October 02, 2012 at 01:39 PM
@Sheila, what is in place to help these students be more successful? Also, if you look at the test results from previous years it seems Masuk has always had problems on standardized tests. Why is this group any different? It seems the school administration is blaming the students for the poor test results.
Steve Kirsch October 02, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Jim, CAPT is a 10th grade only test. Therefore you can not track the same students yr-to-yr.
Steve Kirsch October 02, 2012 at 02:04 PM
The problem caused by funding issues is that the district is forced to reduce some activities that help students in one area to focus on other activities that help other students with other subjects. What we need is to identify the necessary resources - people & materials - to address each area at each grade level and then build those into the system / budget as permanent resources
jim laguardia October 02, 2012 at 02:14 PM
but they have taken other standardized tests throughout the years, so there should be a baseline of if they are improving or not
QWERTY October 02, 2012 at 05:00 PM
I kind of agree with this. At the end of my college career, I was pretty affluent in test taking. It mattered not whether I knew the content but rather how I preformed on a test that determined my grades.
Alex October 02, 2012 at 05:08 PM
We had a budget reduction last year? Could have sworn it was kept the same as last year. So when does it becomes the parent's responsibility to give that extra help and not the town? My parents bought me additional SAT materials outside of school to help me do better. If my parents decided not to do that for me, should they have blamed the school when my SAT scores were not as high? If you want your child to do better, invest your money in their education. Expecting the entire town to contribute additional money is just passing that responsibility of the parents to the town. Public school should be the basis of every child's education, but to expect that to be the be all and end all to their education is a mistaken notion in my opinion.
Forma Bosse October 02, 2012 at 05:12 PM
+1
D. Sickles October 02, 2012 at 06:33 PM
@Alex, what makes you think the parents are not working with their children? Some students require extra services to keep up with their peers. Not all kids are the same. And yes that is the schools responsibility.
Wolfe October 02, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Jim, I agree with your comments COMPLETELY. I think that there is too much testing going on in the schools today. We didn't have this much testing when you and I were kids. Sure, we took the SAT's and one annual performance test---but that was it. The measurement of how we were doing as students was based upon how we were doing as compared to the previous academic year----not compared to surrounding towns. Taking standardized tests takes students away from classroom time, also.
Wolfe October 02, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Deborah and Qwerty---I agree with the two of you, as well as Jim. Taking standardized tests takes students out of class time instead of spending more time actually learning!! All that this testing does is teach students how to take tests----it does NOT teach them how to learn!!! Using what one has learned in practical situations is learning, not taking standardized tests. When I was a kid, we took ONE state test per year. In high school, we had the OPTION of taking the PSAT or the SAT (depending on what grade you were in).
Alan Vaglivelo October 02, 2012 at 10:25 PM
There are 5 levels of student performance on the CMT/CAPT: Below Basic (1), Basic (2), Proficient (3), Goal (4), Advanced (5). The state reports percent of students at or above goal and the federal government (under No Child Left Behind) uses the proficient level.
Alex October 03, 2012 at 03:01 AM
@D. Sickles I'm sure many parents are working with their children, but it would be naive to believe all parents are. As for being the school's responsibility; that depends on what you're referring to. A child with a disability should receive additional help where teachers and professionals deem necessary. If a child doesn't have a disability then they should receive the same education that their peers have. So for example, if a child doesn't like doing their math homework every night and performs poorly on the standard tests as a result, that's a parental issue, not a school problem and no amount of money will solve that kind of problem. I guess my point is, the knee jerk reaction is typically to spend more, but that isn't necessarily going to increase test scores. Identify the causes and approach them with a pragmatic mindset.
Christine E. October 03, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Alex, Some kids not liking to do their homework have underlying causes. I wouldn't amount it solely to a parenting issue.
Maddy C. October 08, 2012 at 12:15 AM
As a student myself, I can see that budget cuts and teaching (while still important) is not completely to blame. I received advanced on all CAPT testing and notice that the general success ability is in the mindset of our students, like me. They invert our lives towards narrow scopes of thinking especially on test material and nothing more. We, therefore, cannot expand our minds to adapt to the test as a whole. They can tell us again and again how to write an essay. They can give us formulas and facts to memorize, but that doesn't guarantee perfection. We need to understand and think more expanded and versatile. At the end of the day, you can't write the essay for the student, you have to prepare them to handle the situations and find the answer, not memorize a fact!

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