Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Polanski Displeased With Milford Kids CAPT Test Scores

Superintendent of Schools Harvey B. Polansky says he is “displeased” with the scores city high school students achieved on the Connecticut Aptitude Performance Test.

That displeasure will manifest itself in a road show of sorts as select school officials travel to high schools across the state to see what those districts are doing to ensure good test results, Polansky said.

“I want to see what the best high schools are doing,” Polansky said. “I am displeased with the high school results (here).”

At Monday’s school board meeting, there was a somber mood as officials pored through CAPT results, which have been on a downward trend since 2007. Milford ranks near or at the bottom in several categories when compared to communities of similar size. School officials were a little more upbeat over the Connecticut Mastery Test scores. The CMTs are administered to students in third through eighth grade.

For the CAPTs, in Milford’s District Reference Group, the 450 tenth-grade students who took the test ranked second to last when compared to 25 other similar communities in math, fourth from the bottom in science, and second to last in reading and writing.

“As you can see, there has been a decline in Milford test scores this year,” said Michael Cummings, who is assistant superintendent of schools for curriculum and instruction. “We’re especially concerned about writing, which has been Milford’s strong point.”

School board member Tracy Casey, D-2, noted this year’s scores are lower in every category except science. Cummings said staff has done an “excellent job” realigning that curriculum. But, he said, since 2007 the science numbers have still dipped.

“Taking a look at this, I’m sure you are not impressed,” Majority Leader Greta Stanford, D-1, said to administrators. “What is administration’s plan to remediate this?”

Cummings said the administration is “not impressed,” and plans to study the numbers in depth. He said the administration will study who has been teaching ninth- and tenth-graders. He also said students may need more time to take the test.

School board candidate and parent Jack Fowler, R-1, said he has researched the test scores, and what is equally disturbing is that, of the communities in its reference group, Milford has the third highest per-pupil expenditure, at $12,354.

“We spent more, the kids got less, and the taxpayers have the privilege of footing the bill for this travesty,” Fowler said. “We are paying for champagne but getting dishwater.”

Cummings said the number of students scoring at below basic and basic levels is climbing, and the reading scores are of “great concern.”

Board member James Santa Barbara, D-5, questioned whether the district is losing some of its more talented younger students to private schools as Milford continues its trend of doing “reasonably well” on the CMTs, while not as well on the CAPT.


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