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Test Scores Show Improvement

Darien's children have always been good students, and based on this year's Connecticut Mastery Tests they're only getting better. The state Department of Education released the results of the annual standardized tests July 15. Superintendent of Schools Stephen Falcone noted that the scores mostly showed a "positive improvement," and showed signs that individual students were improving their test scores.

"I think we're moving in the right direction. Our students are doing well," Falcone said. Connecticut public school students are required to take the CMTs, standardized tests that measure math, reading and writing in grades 3-8. Science is tested in grades 5 and 8. These tests are used to determine if a school is making "adequate yearly progress" under the federal No Child Left Behind law. The scores are measured as advanced, goal, proficient, basic and below basic.

Although Darien's scores were strong across the board, Falcone said he was most impressed with the performance of individual "cohorts," or classes of children of the same age. The Darien Public Schools staff can get an idea of how these groups are improving by comparing 2009's third grade scores to 2010's fourth grade scores, and so on. "We've seen very nice progress in these cohorts. Not just more students reaching goal, but students continuing to move along that continuum—students that are at 'goal' moving up to advanced, and students that are proficient moving up to goal."

For grade levels that took the tests in 2009 and 2010, the percentage of students reaching the goal increased in 13 of 15 subject areas and the percentage of students at "advanced" levels increased in nine. But Falcone recognized that the grade levels that slipped—eighth grade reading and writing, fourth grade reading and fifth grade writing—show that some areas need improvement. "There's always areas where we need to take a closer look, and see what we need to do for our individual students," Falcone said. "We'll know even more about by September."

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