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Newtown Cited By State Education Advocacy Group



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Newtown Cited By State Education Advocacy Group

By Eliza Hallabeck

The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), a New Haven-based advocacy group focused on closing the achievement gap, recently released its 2011 School Report Cards, and some of Newtown’s schools made top marks in specific areas.

“Newtown High School and middle schools have both been recognized by ConnCAN,” said Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson at the Tuesday, December 6, Board of Education meeting, adding that the local schools were “in their Top Ten list for Hispanic student performance and low-income student performance.”

According to ConnCAN, NHS was ranked fifth in its grade level category for low-income student performance, Newtown Middle School was ranked second in its grade level category for Hispanic student performance, and both NMS and Reed Intermediate School made the top ten for low-income student performance, in the fourth and fifth placements prospectively.

ConnCAN, according to its website, uses statewide and district test scores from the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) and the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) to produce its report cards.

“This is a recognition based on the hard work and dedication of our teachers and students, and so I hope you will all join me in congratulating them on this great distinction,” the superintendent said. 

Elementary Schools

Overall student performance for Newtown’s elementary schools — Hawley School, Sandy Hook School, Middle Gate School, and Head O’ Meadow School — was collectively ranked 21 out of 163 districts in the state by the advocacy group. ConnCAN awarded Newtown’s elementary schools an A-.

Newtown’s 5,628 elementary students included in the report had a higher average of meeting state goals across testing in math, reading, science, and writing, than the state average by nearly 20 percent.

Newtown students in the low-income, African American, and Hispanic subgroups of the report performed roughly 40 percent higher than the state average, and Newtown’s elementary schools ranked fourth out of 84 districts in that category of the report. Overall, ConnCAN ranked the subgroups’ performance with a B.

ConnCAN also ranked the school districts on performance gains over the course of one year and on the achievement gap, “average gap between the performance of low-income and minority students and their non low-income and white peers.”

While Newtown saw a low percentage of performance gains, the state average was lower. Newtown ranked 65 out of 165 districts for performance gains, according to ConnCAN.

The achievement gap in Newtown, as reported by ConnCAN was lower than the state’s average achievement gap at the elementary school level. Newtown’s elementary schools were ranked seventh out of 87 districts in the category.

Middle Schools

As designated by ConnCAN, both NMS and Reed Intermediate School fall under its grading category of “middle schools.” Newtown’s students in fifth through eighth grades were included in ConnCAN’s middle school ranking.

Newtown ranked 18 out of 173 districts for overall student performance in this age group, and scored higher than the state average.

For the subgroups of low-income, African American, and Hispanic students, ConnCAN awarded Newtown an A-, and it was ranked third out of 96 districts in the category. Newtown’s subgroups met state goals roughly 40 percent more than the state average.

Under the Achievement Gap category Newtown ranked fifth out of 89 districts, and earned an A- in this age category.

High School Performance

Newtown’s high school level performance on tests earned the district a B-.

The district also earned a C in this age category for its subgroup performance, that again monitored low-income, African American, and Hispanic students. The average percentage of students in these subgroups that met state goals did so roughly 30 percent more than the state average, and Newtown was ranked seventh of 83 districts in the category.

Under the Achievement Gap category for the middle school age group, the advocacy group awarded Newtown a C+, and ranked it 15 out of 79 districts in the category.

ConnCAN’s full Report Cards and its lists for its Top Ten schools are available at its website, www.conncan.com.

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