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School Administrators Optimistic About Student Progress

Assistant superintendent and principals say proficiency assessment shows marked improvement between fall and winter

Administrators with the told the Board of Education that they are seeing signs of student improvement after putting a number of initiatives in place.

The assistant superintendent, as well as the principals of and made the presentation on Thursday. They said the data they’ve received indicates that a greater percentage of students met test standards this winter than last fall.

The district for this school year after New London’s 2010 results showed poor test scores on both the and . These methods included a focus on literacy development, curriculum changes, and professional development.

Assistant Superintendent Christine Carver said there were hopeful signs on the results of the Measures of Academic Progress assessment, given three times a year to students in grades four through 10. This measures reading and mathematics proficiency, and is used as a predictor for how a student will do on the CMT.

In a report given to the board, Carver said schools have used strategies such as increased instructional time devoted to literacy and mathematics, professional development, targeted intervention programs, and a comprehensive plan for teacher evaluation. She said the MAP assessments have shown improvements, including accelerated growth among black and Hispanic students.

“This is probably some of the most exciting news we’ve had in awhile in terms of academic achievement,” said Carver.

Middle school

Alison Ryan, principal of the Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School, said the MAP results indicate “extraordinary growth” in the school. She said some students are making a year’s growth over the course of three months.

Ryan said all students get 102 minutes of language arts instruction every day. Students who need more assistance receive an extra 50 minutes of language arts or mathematics instruction either every day or every other day.

“If you’re hearing one thing I say tonight: it’s the teachers,” said Ryan.

Ryan said the school is also striving to have a higher percentage of students reach goal level on the state tests, and is offering after-school activities, enrichment programs, and other incentives to boost high achievers.

Board President Bill Morse said he was concerned about other data points saying some seventh grade students are two years behind in reading. Ryan said progress is being made, noting one student who climbed four grade levels in one year, but that time is needed to close the gap.

“I just hope that we can make progress by the summer, to close that two-year gap to maybe a year and a half,” said Morse.

High school

Principal Tommy Thompson of the New London High School also made a presentation, along with literacy coach Dr. Maureen Ruby. Thompson said the two grades in the school taking the MAP are also showing progress, but said it was only one data point to determine student improvement.

“We have to pursue this relentlessly, and we do that daily in the classroom,” said Thompson.

Thompson said about 53 percent of ninth grade students made the MAP reading standard in the fall, while 55 percent did so in the winter. Only 22 percent of these students met the mathematics standard in the fall, but this increased to 29 percent in the winter.

In the tenth grade, progress on the MAP was more accelerated. Thompson said those at or above proficiency in reading scores increased from about 63 percent to about 72 percent between the fall and winter, while the percentage meeting the mathematics standard increased from 50 percent to 59 percent. Thompson said some students continue to struggle, noting that 34 of the 50 repeat ninth graders remain below standard in reading, as do 42 of 48 repeat ninth graders in math.

Ruby said math scores can be complicated by a language barrier, as some students may understand the concepts but struggle with the language. She said there has been significant growth among Hispanic students in the high school in both reading and math.

“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Thompson.

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Lori Hopkins Cavanagh February 26, 2012 at 12:12 AM
I think New London needs to focus all of it's efforts on Bennie Dover Jackson. If we do not grab these kids in middle school we have lost them in high school. The city is better off closing NL High for four years, sending the kids to area magnet schools and put all of our efforts into these children at Bennie Dover Jackson. I know it might sound far fetched but it would work. Meanwhile we could plan on building a middle school/high school campus renovating the high school and adding a new middle school to it. My heart goes out to these kids who are having so much difficulty at such a difficult time in life.
Patrick Herring February 26, 2012 at 02:39 AM
"all of it's efforts"? Should be "all of its efforts". Education should start at home. The more the parents get involved the better the kids do at school. It is wrong to put more emphasis on the teachers, as teachers can only do so much. Before blaming the system, and the school; parents should take an active role in educating their children.
Mark Jones May 27, 2012 at 06:26 AM
Yes, it is amazing what strides one can make in test scores when teachers and administrators tell the children which wrong answers to change before the test is graded!

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