Updated: District releases 2014 Science CMT and CAPT scores

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Click here to view school-by-school Science CMT results.
Click here to view school-byschool Science CAPT results.
2014 scores mirror state trends, show gains among 8th graders and turnaround schools; still much work to be done to improve student science performance as part of overall academic learning
New Haven Public Schools on Thursday released results of the 2014 Science Connecticut Mastery Tests (CMT) for grades 5 and 8 and Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) for grade 10. In 2014, the district saw modest gains in science among 8th graders, but scores slipped for both 5th graders and 10th graders.
Overall, since 2008 which is the last baseline year before the launch of School Change, science scores have improved modestly across all grades at the Proficient and Goal levels, with progress ahead of the state at several grade levels. Much work remains to be done to accelerate progress and more fully prepare students for success in college and the STEM careers of the future.
In 2014, students took the science portion of the state standardized test which includes testing at the 5th, 8th, and 10th grade levels, as they will continue to do for the next few years until transitioning to a Connecticut Next Generation Science Test. Results from the mathematics and literacy pilot testing of Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium aligned to Common Core will not be available until later this year and will not include student-level results.
In 2014, 8th grade science CMT scores went up at the Proficient and Goal levels over the year before, from 53.2 to 55.3 percent for Proficient and 33.3 to 35.2 percent for Goal. However, the district saw drops at the Proficient and Goal levels for fifth graders, from 58.0 to 56.7 percent for Proficient and from 31.3 to 24.3 percent for Goal. Across the state, middle school scores increased similarly by about 2 percent, while 5th grade students declined in Goal by 3 percent and increased in Proficient by 2 percent.
For CAPT, 10th grade science scores dropped significantly in 2014 from the year before at both the Proficient and Goal levels, going from 58.3 to 53.0 percent for Proficient and 21.6 to 17.3 percent for Goal. Across the state, Connecticut high school student scores declined by 3 percent from 2013 to 2014.
In all cases, New Haven students reaching proficient and goal in 2014 in grades 5, 8, and 10 are still higher than the base line year of 2008, with 8th grade students having made the largest gains, 10 percent in six years, double the state growth in those years.
Scores in New Haven general mirrored state trends this year. When compared to similar districts in the state (a reference group that includes districts such as Bridgeport and Hartford), New Haven students continue to show science achievement near the top of the group, with 8th grade students at the top of the group in percent Proficient, Goal and in scientific inquiry scores for 2014. New Haven students more than doubled the state growth rate from 2008, rising 10% over the six years, compared to an average of 3.5% for the state as a whole.
On the CAPT, 10th grade New Haven students continue to outperform four comparable cities at the Proficient level and for scientific inquiry scores. New Haven high school students continue to close the achievement gap with the state, decreasing the achievement gap from the baseline year of 2008 in 10th grade by 4 percent.
“A strong education in science – both the content and the methods of thinking – is essential to prepare our students to take on the most exciting challenges and best science and technology jobs of the future. Although the CMT is only a partial measure of what is happening in our classrooms, and our progress in 8th grade and some turnarounds remain as bright spot, I am nonetheless disappointed that we didn’t see more comprehensive progress in science this year.  We need be sure all our students can demonstrate both the behaviors and knowledge of a scientists so when they need to, so they can be prepared for tomorrow’s workforce,” said Superintendent of Schools Garth Harries.
“I am particularly pleased with the 8th grade science scores,” Richard Therrien, NHPS Science Supervisor. “It is especially important for middle school students to get a strong foundation in science, to help prepare them for a future in STEM and middle school science teachers have really stepped up to the task. Although disappointed with the decline in elementary scores, and the decline in high school scores after last year’s strong gains, we remain focused on working with schools and teachers to make sure students have the essential science skills they need.  While our science teachers will take a lead in this, my hope is that all our teachers and our many community partners will continue to be supportive.”
On a positive note, New Haven students performed well above their peers on scientific inquiry skills, which involve students asking questions and using evidence and conducting hands-on experiments to explain the world around them. New Haven science teachers focus on scientific inquiry in the classroom as a key to developing skills in experimentation, analysis and drawing conclusions – the kinds of habits that will prepare students for the advanced STEM-related jobs of the future. Many of these practices also overlap with skills required for mastery of the new Common Core State Standards, so it is especially important that New Haven students continue to do well in these areas to prepare them for college and careers.
Also of note is that English Language Learners in middle school and high school outperformed the district as a whole, showing the importance of this experiential instruction for this population.
Although many K-8 schools saw decreases this year, Brennan-Rogers and Wexler-Grant, both turnaround schools, showed improvement in every grade both in goal and proficiency. This points to the continued challenge of ensuring meaningful, purposeful and engaging hands on science learning for elementary students in their crowded school day. New Haven continues to work with community partners and educators to address this challenge.
Overall, 8th grade scores continue to improve. There were double digit gains in some traditionally underperforming schools at the middle school level: Wexler-Grant, DOMUS, Clinton, Hill Central, Truman, all of which had newer teachers that worked closely with a science mentor this past year, part of the district’s Professional Educator Program.
At the high school level, Wilbur Cross showed the largest gains in science proficiency, with New Haven Academy also showing gains. Many high schools have started work on a mastery learning model that works with students on attaining specific competencies before moving on to the next concept, which should lead to stronger foundations for students as they graduate. New Haven high school students in science are expected to not only analyze experiments and learn concepts, as tested on the CAPT, but also to connect their science learning to other subjects and the world in which they live. The transition to Common Core and innovative high school learning models could contribute to an initial decrease in specific CAPT science scores, but down the road will ensure stronger understanding and mastery of science skills and better preparation for science careers.
Tables and graphs attached.