Mixed results for SATs
FAIRFIELD — The statewide SAT scores released July 25 show a mixed bag for Fairfield.
While Fairfield Ludlowe High School’s average score for language arts and math increased over the previous year, putting it among the highest, the scores for both at Fairfield Warde dipped.
Public high school juniors are given the two tests called the Connecticut SAT School Day. Across both schools, 60 percent of juniors reached the target in math, while 82 percent reached the target in language arts.
“This is just one piece of information that tells the story for any school or district and we are careful to look at the overall lens of academic achievement which is broad,” Superintendent of Schools Toni Jones said.
The language arts score for Fairfield Ludlowe went from 583 in 2016 to 590 for 2017, while math scores that were 564 in 2016, increased in 2017 to 583. At Fairfield Warde, the 2017 language arts score was 553, compared to 579 in 2016, while math scores dropped from 557 in 2016 to 535 in 2017.
“Overall, we are very pleased with what we are seeing,” Jones said. “Certainly, if a score goes down we want to understand why.” She said the Board of Education will review the results in the fall, as it does annually.
“However, no two groups of students are exactly the same and the human element that we are testing people and not machines means that many factors play into testing,” the superintendent said. “We will analyze the data closely to look at our data and various cohorts of students and compare their performance with what is expected over time.”
For example, Jones said, there are students at Warde who speak English as a second language.
Although the test is given to juniors as an accountability assessment measure, it also provides all high school juniors to take a college readiness exam at no cost and can be used by students applying to college.
At Fairfield Warde, 385 students took the test, while 359 Ludlowe students took the test.
Statewide, average language arts scores remain higher than the grade level score of 480 set by the state when it adopted the SAT as the state’s standardized test for 11th graders three years ago. For the third year in a row, more than 60 percent of juniors taking the test scored at or above the expected target.
Average math scores have yet to reach the grade-level score of 530. In math, 40.3 percent of students met or exceed the target.
The score decline cut across every category in reading. In math, the one increase was for students who qualify for free meals, who rose from an average score of 435 to 440.
In that, Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell took some solace.
“While results have remained relatively stable over the last three years, we are encouraged by the bright spots in the results of this year’s SAT School Day including a majority of students mastering college and career readiness in English language arts and an increase in achievement in mathematics for students from low-income backgrounds,” Wentzell said in a prepared statement.
She said the Connecticut SAT School Day serves as an accountability assessment measure but also provides all high school juniors the opportunity to take a college readiness exam at no cost. The SAT is one of two tests many colleges still look to when admitting students.
The results, in addition to measuring student performance, can also be used by students applying to college.
“Our goal is to make sure all of our students are prepared to succeed in college and their careers,” Wentzell said. “To that end, we are dedicated to supporting districts’ efforts to close achievement gaps and raise student performance across the board.”
As for why overall scores went down, state officials say one reason is that different kids are taking the test each year.
“It is hard to say why the achievement of this group of 11th-graders was slightly lower than that of the group from 2016-17,” said Peter Yazbak, a state Department of Education spokesman. He also characterized the change as narrow.
Statewide, 95.2 percent of high school juniors — about 37,900 students — took the test last spring. For many, testing occurred on a make up day in April, since on March 21, the designated SAT Day, many schools canceled classes because of an expected nor’easter.