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Friday, August 31, 2007

Westport Students Do Well in CAPT Tests

UPDATE Westport students performed well in the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) this year, well surpassing state levels and on par with neighboring suburban districts in Wilton and Weston, according to the state Department of Education.

According to data released Thursday, of 10th grade students tested at Staples High School, 96.3 performed at proficiency level or above in math; 97.4 percent were at least proficient in science; 98.4 in reached that level in reading; and 97.9 percent in writing.

In Weston and Wilton the comparable numbers were 98.5 and 96.6 in math; 98.5 and 96.9 in science; 98.0 and 97.2 in reading; and 95.6 and 97.5 in writing.

The state said this year’s test was a new one with changes in content, format, length and scoring and therefore its data cannot be directly compared with the first two versions of the test.

In a news release today, the Westport School District said while comparisons with the previous year’s test may not be statistically valid, it noted that Westport scores did improve in the year to year comparison on three of the four tests.

It said the 2007 math result was 85.7 percent compared to 78.7 percent in 2006; science was 81.1 percent compared to 74.8 percent; reading was 87.2 percent compared to 83.9 percent, and writing was 82.9 percent compared to 85 percent.

“The CAPT form the basis of the designation by the federal government of whether a school is making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the No Child Left Behind Act,” the release said. “Westport’s Staples High School easily met that guideline for tests given in 2007.”

The district said tests results inevitably vary from year to year because different groups of students with different strengths and weaknesses are being tested each year. 

“It is important to include many other indicators of success in evaluating students’ and schools’ overall performance,” the release said.

It said while the state provides data for a group of specific towns thought to have similar demographics, testing experts generally warn against comparisons based on the single measure of test results.

The group is referred to as a District Reference Group (DRG) and covers only eight towns, the district said.

“Students in all of the districts in our DRG have excellent results, all measurably higher than state averages,” the release said.

“The results vary from district to district by grade and subtest. Westport falls in the middle of the DRG for many subtests, in the lower segment for some and in first or second place for others.”

The district said more important than comparisons, however, is how the test results are used to improve individual students’ performances and curriculum. 

“Teachers and administrators use CAPT results to help identify strengths and weaknesses of individual students and/or groups so as to be able to put additional emphasis on areas where strength in content or skills needs to be bolstered,” the release said.

“Through the years, curriculum committees have reviewed whether and where the Westport curriculum is aligned with the tests.”

It said changes in curriculum have been and will be recommended if the committee, which characteristically includes parents as members along with professional staff, believes the change is appropriate for Westport. 

“Thus, while the tests are used as one yardstick, they may serve to enhance the teacher’s repertoire and to enrich the curriculum, but not to drive it,” the district said.

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Posted 08/31/07 at 04:24 AM  Permalink



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These scores are due to the mammoth amount of prep students were subjected to last year. For a solid semester we were being “taught to the test,” and it is nice to see that it paid off. Kudos teachers, and fantastic work ‘09.

Posted by Nellie Stagg on September 01, 2007 at 03:33 AM | #
 

Conversely, some students haven’t had a creative writing assignment for several years.  Just say “5 paragraph essay” to any 8th grader, and they’ll run screaming from the room.

Posted by Dan Lasley on September 01, 2007 at 01:28 PM | #