New London - Of the city's four elementary schools, Harbor and Nathan Hale fifth-graders showed the biggest improvement in math over three testing periods on the Measures of Academic Performance (MAP) test, school officials said at Thursday's Board of Education meeting.
The district's fifth-grade math scores were "impressive for the most part," according to school officials, and Harbor and Nathan Hale students ended the year with an average MAP score of 220 in math, improving from slightly less than their fall average of around 205.
All schools in the district - which has been identified by the state as the fourth-lowest performing district in the state - saw growth in student achievement in reading and math, but there is still a significant gap between English Language Learners and Special Education students and their counterparts in all grades, school officials said.
The MAP test is not an official state test, and results do not count as part of the state's determination of where the school district stands as a whole. But the test provides individualized reports on each student's performance and gives teachers the information they need to help students improve.
Teachers work with each student to set improvement goals for both the next MAP testing period and for state standardized tests, given in the spring.
Tracking individual student progress with the MAP tests is one of the ways school officials are attempting to improve student performance. This was the second year in a row that middle and high school students took the MAP test and the first year the test was given to the district's fourth- and fifth-grade students. Students in fourth through 10th grade take the online test three times a year.
Interim Assistant Superintendent of Schools Katherine Ericson said that typically, students who end up scoring at grade level on the MAP tests end up achieving "goal" - a performance measure set by the state - on the Connecticut Mastery Test. The CMTs are given to students in third through eighth grade.
Tenth-graders take the Connecticut Academic Performance Test.
Harbor Elementary School's reading scores were strong, especially among its special education students who, on average, increased their reading scores by 15 points.
Tenth-grade students, whose performance is measured by the CAPT, showed signs of improvement throughout the year in math and reading on the MAP but fell short of meeting the district's goal level for both subjects.
The district set a 5 percent improvement goal in literacy and mathematics on this year's CAPT, and the pressure to deliver was felt by high school staff and the students who took the standardized test in March. Those scores will be released by the state in July.