10th graders showed a significant drop in the number of students meeting both the proficiency and goal levels of the Connecticut Academic Performance Test, according to test results released Tuesday by the state.
The largest decreases were in the reading and writing scores. In 2010, 55 percent of sophomores taking the test scored at proficiency level or higher, while this year only 37.4 percent met that level. In writing, 67 percent made proficiency in 2010 while 52.5 percent made proficiency this year.
In math and science results, scores dropped 7 percent to 8 percent. A total of 50.5 percent of sophomores were at or above math proficiency in 2010, while 43.4 percent met the level this year. Science went from 53.8 percent at proficiency level to 45.9 percent.
The percentage of students making goal level on the test also dropped. These went from 19 percent to 15.5 percent for math, 21.8 percent to 15.9 percent for science, 15.7 percent to 8.9 percent for reading, and 26.1 percent to 15.4 percent for writing.
Each of the scores lags well behind the state average. Across Connecticut, 80.3 percent of sophomores were at or above proficiency for math, while 49.6 percent were at or above goal.
In science, 81.7 percent met proficiency and 47.2 percent goal; in reading, 81.9 percent met proficiency and 44.8 percent goal; and in writing, 88.6 percent met proficiency and 61.3 percent goal.
These represented slight improvements across the board with the exception of reading, which declined from a statewide average of 82.9 percent at proficiency and 45.9 percent at goal.
In New London, the decreases were the first since 2007 in math and reading after incremental increases in proficiency in both tests. Science and writing scores have been more inconsistent, with science proficiency increasing from 47.8 percent in 2009 to 56.3 percent in 2010 and writing proficiency seesawing since 2007, with a low of 52.3 percent in 2007 and a high of a high of 75.2 percent the next year.
“I am very, very upset with those scores,” Board of Education member Barbara Major said of New London’s most recent performance. “I don’t see any improvement.”
At a special meeting of the board last week, Major for Superintendent Nicholas Fischer after saying she wanted to see the outcome of the CAPT results first. She said she would like to see the district eliminate half of the administrative positions in order to hire more teachers to create smaller class sizes.
“There has to be more accountability to this school system and work to get these scores up,” she said.
Fischer said the CAPT, along with the Connecticut Mastery Test for younger students, are part of the No Child Left Behind Act’s goal to raise test scores to 100 percent proficiency in math and reading by 2014. Fischer said the district must strive to be consistent in its performance and focus on a number of areas, such as student comprehension skills, interpreting documents, and vocabulary.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do in these areas,” he said.
Board member Ronna Stuller said she was uncertain how much the data reflected the quality of the school system.
“Obviously how you’re teaching and what the curriculum is will have an impact, but you’re going to have a totally different group of kids,” she said.
According to the 2009 CMT scores for New London, which would have represented the same class that that took the CAPT this year, students were consistent or showed some improvement in math and science proficiency.
The class scored 19.5 percent goal and 44 percent proficiency on the math test and 16.9 percent goal and 40.8 percent proficiency on the science test. The class showed a higher aptitude on the CMT tests for reading and writing, with 28.5 percent making goal and 43.5 percent making proficiency in reading and 32.5 percent making goal and 57 percent making proficiency in writing.
Stuller said she was also worried that the results could signify that nearly two-thirds of the class that takes the CAPT in two years could be struggling to meet the checklist for earning a diploma.
“My first thought was, ‘How are we going to have the resources to actually implement the literacy requirement?’” she said.
The , which will go into effect with the incoming freshman class at , means students must show a 10th grade level of literacy before graduation. The requirement can be met in a number of different ways, and one of them is achievement on the CAPT test.