“Considering the fact that Woodstock ranks in the lowest 3% of all of the towns in the state in terms of spending per pupil…the Woodstock school system deserves an A”
Today, August 11th, the Norwich Bull published numerous articles on reactions in eastern Connecticut to the publication of 2006 CMT scores for all of the towns in the state. The CT Department of Education has published this information on the Internet on an elegant website www.cmtreports.com that allows one to parse the CMT results by town, groups of towns (for comparison), by grade level, and by various demographic categories. A tremendous amount of data is presented. Thus, it is difficult to do justice to this information at the CafÃ©. Nevertheless, I thought I would start with some preliminary observations. It will be up to the citizens of Woodstock who care about education to examine this information first hand to evaluate how students and the school system are performing, at the taxpayers expense.
We have heard much supportive commentary and vitriol about our public school system here at the CafÃ©, in the Villager, in numerous town meetings, and causal conversation among friends. Some people donâ€™t like standard tests because these tests contain cultural, demographic, social, and cognitive biases. And I wish to refer all readers to the elegant statement by â€˜Cyssanâ€™ regarding the value of our school system that cannot be measured by standardized testing. Nevertheless, the results of such standard tests may provide certain insights into the efficacy of education systems. Furthermore, the federal government has mandated goals in education with achievement measured by standard testing. So the results of these statewide standardized tests are recognized both as a measure of performance of students and school systems.
For the purpose of this article I thought it would be best to simplify the numbers rather than summarize all of the numbers. The first simplification I chose was to average the math and reading test scores for each grade rather than present 2 numbers. This cuts the data down by one-third since I have not included new third test scores on â€œwritingâ€?. Next I have limited this presentation to Woodstock, Pomfret, Brooklyn, Thompson, Killingly, and one of the most affluent Towns in Connecticut, Darien with scores at the top of the food chain. To reduce the numbers further when talking about specific grades, I will focus on grades 3, 6, and 8, but I will also describe results that are averages of the scores from grades 3 through 8. I will leave it to you to fill in any gaps by accessing the â€œCMT reportsâ€? website. For additional information relevant to these surrounding towns I would like to refer you to an April 18th article at the CafÃ© entitled â€œWoodstock vs. Area Public Schools â€“ Spending per pupil, income demographics & school rankingsâ€? that contains additional information taken from state websites.
Regarding grade 3 students in Woodstock, 74.4 %, scored above goal set by “No Student Left Behind”. This same statistic for Pomfret, Brooklyn, Thompson, Killingly, state-wide, and Darien was, 76.7%, 61.9%, 57.2%, 54.3%, 55.4%, and 84.4% respectively. Regarding grade 6, 74.8% of Woodstock students scored above goal while students from Pomfret, Brooklyn, Thompson, Killingly, state-wide, and Darien scored above goal 71.2%, 57.2%, 46.4%, 59.6%, 61.1%, and 87.4% of the time. Regarding grade 8, 84.7% of Woodstock students scored above goal while students from Pomfret, Brooklyn, Thompson, Killingly, state-wide, and Darien scored above goal 86.3%, 54%, 52.8%, 61.7%, 61.1%, and 92.6% of the time. Before such goals were set by â€œNo Child Left Behindâ€?, the state measured and compared performance of school systems using a lower threshold of performance. This threshold is called a â€œproficiency scoreâ€?. For grade 8, 92.6% of Woodstock students scored above proficiency while students from Pomfret, Brooklyn, Thompson, Killingly, state-wide, and Darien scored above proficiency 93.9%, 67.9%, 65.9%, 79.2%, 76.4%, and 96.5% of the time.
If we examine the average performance for all grades 3 through 8 using the â€œproficiency scoresâ€?, 84.7% of Woodstock students scored above the proficiency level while students from Pomfret, Brooklyn, Thompson, Killingly, and Darien scored above proficiency 90.6%, 76%, 66.9%, 80.3%, and 95.2% of the time.
Considering the fact that Woodstock ranks in the lowest 3% of all of the towns in the state in terms of spending per pupil, and has a relatively high student to teacher ratio, the Woodstock K-8 school system deserves an A.