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WESTBROOK - This school district's state report card is one that any school leader would be proud to take home.
Last month Westbrook's school administrators learned that two of the district's three schools won the highest of five possible school performance scores under the state school accountability system. The state's Excelling designation was awarded to both Daisy Ingraham Elementary School and Westbrook Middle School.
The School Performance Index on which this designation is based is computed by the state Department of Education (DOE). The complex formula reflects student and school performance on several measures, including student test scores (on the Connecticut Mastery Tests [CMTs] for elementary and middle schools; on Connecticut Academic Performance Tests for the high school). Graduation rates are also reflected in high school performance scores.
While Westbrook has two of three schools labeled Excelling, "Only 23.6 percent of [the approximately 1,200 state public] schools have been placed in the Excelling classification," wrote Superintendent of Schools Pat Ciccone in a letter to parents.
"Last year, Daisy Ingraham was noted as a School of Distinction for the significant growth that our elementary students made year to year. This year it is wonderful to note that our middle school students made stunning progress on CMTs and as such are noted as a School of Distinction this year," wrote Ciccone.
Schools designated by the state DOE as schools of distinction must have made more than three percent growth in student test score performance from one year to the next.
The State School Performance Index score places schools into one of six classifications: Excelling, Progressing, Transitioning, Review, Focus, or Turnaround.
Westbrook High School, the third district school, was classified as Progressing. According to Ciccone, this means the school was "on target for improvement goals for student performance in mathematics, reading, writing, and science, [but was] just short of the target for cohort graduation rate."
Ciccone explained that the graduation rate data the state uses is always one year behind the other school performance data. Given that, Ciccone explained that the Westbrook High School graduation rate for the 2012-2013 year actually exceeded the DOE target.
As of the next school year, school performance measures computed by the state will reflect student performance on the new computer-based Smarter Balance Assessment (SBA). The new test set design is based on the Common Core State Standards for math and language arts first adopted by the state Board of Education in 2009.
All Connecticut school districts are required by the state under school reform to administer the new SBA tests to students starting in spring 2015.