FAIRFIELD — Standardized test results have shown significant improvements in the past five years, but district administrators say there is definite room for improvement.

In a presentation to the Board of Education Thursday, Oct. 10, FPS curriculum program directors provided an overview of 2018-2019 standardized testing across grade levels.

Standardized assessments, explained Interim Deputy Superintendent Arlene Gottesman, provide the district with objective data points through which they can identify trends and compare student and curricular success.

In comparison with data from the last five years, test results showed improvements in math achievement and AP access, but some deficits in spelling and grammar, as well as PSAT and SAT scores.

According to the district’s mathematics directors, test results showed an upward trend in math test scores over the past five years across all grade levels.

Advance Placement (AP) data also shows major strides in access, with the district growing the number of students taking these high-level exams while maintaining already high scores.

According to Social Studies and Student-Centered Learning Director Gregg Pugliese, the total number of AP students has grown from 679 to 758 since 2015. Since then, the percentage of these students receiving scores of 3 or higher has remained relatively consistent, at 88 percent in 2015 and 86 percent in 2019.

This, explained Pugliese, is a big win for spreading out high-level opportunities among more students while keeping achievement levels impressive.

“This shows that we continue to increase the access, and we have done so while maintaining a very high success rate,” Pugliese said.

In elementary English Language Arts, said program directors, the district has seen improvement in listening, writing and revising. Improvement, however, is needed in text analysis, word meanings and editing for grammar, punctuation and spelling.

Low spelling and grammar scores were a particular area of concern for the Board of Education, whose members said these foundational language skills are a hole in the FPS curriculum.

“There are absolute deficits in our children’s education,” said Board member Jennifer Maxon Kennelly, noting that these foundational literacy skills need to be improved if students are to progress to higher levels of language analysis.

Another area of concern came in PSAT and SAT scores, which Secondary Literacy and Learning Director Jennifer Swingler said have remained flat over the years, with evidence-based reading and writing SAT scores hovering between 80 and 90 percent since 2015.

“We are not seeing the increases over time that we hope to see for students, and that is something that we have started to address through some of our target work within our schools,” Swingler said.

The district also administered its first-ever round of Next Generation Science Standards tests, a new assessment just released this year. The district, said Secondary Science Director Justine LaSala, is reviewing this pilot test data as an indicator of how they can incorporate these new standards into their teaching.

“Going forward, the work at the district level for us will be to align our curriculum, our instructional practices and our assessments to these new standards,” LaSala said.

In conclusion, Gottesman commended the curricular planning staff for their continual engagement with each other, as well as teachers and administrators at every grade level.

“I have observed this team working collaboratively, and the conversation is ongoing everyday,” she said, praising Schools Superintendent Mike Cummings and the Board of Education for building and supporting this curricular planning environment.

rscharf@hearstmediact.com