New Haven, Conn.— On Friday, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) released preliminary results from the statewide Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC) from the 2016-2017 school year. SBAC scores are an important tool for evaluating the academic progress of students, schools, and districts in Connecticut. The test measures student progress toward math and English Language Arts (ELA) standards for college and workforce readiness.

In response, ConnCAN’s CEO, Jennifer Alexander, said, “While there were some bright spots and some modest improvements, the real headline from the 2016-2017 SBAC scores is that Connecticut continues to leave far too many students unprepared for college or careers. This is especially true for children of color, who will soon be the majority of our state’s workforce. To build a brighter future for our children and a strong economy for Connecticut, we must do better, and we must move faster.”

Analysts from ConnCAN (the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now) reviewed the data and concluded:

Overall Progress

  • The number of students showing proficiency in math increased by 1.6 percentage points from last year, but the number of students proficient in ELA decreased by 1.4 percentage points. At this growth rate, it would take almost 30 years for the majority (80%) of Connecticut’s Black, Hispanic/Latino, English Learners, and students eligible for free or reduced priced lunch to reach proficiency in math.
  • In three out of ten districts, fewer than half of all students are on track to college or career readiness in ELA. In five out of ten districts, fewer than half of students are on track in math.

Economic Implications

These results reveal a troubling mismatch between economic realities and student readiness. Specifically:

  • Although by 2020, more than 70% of Connecticut jobs will require some education beyond high school and eight out of ten of the fastest-growing, degree-requiring careers in the state also require STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) competency, fewer than half (45.6%) of all Connecticut students are on track to college readiness in math.
  • More than half of the 83 million additional workers that the US economy will need by 2030 will be people of color, and 80% of those people will either be Black/African American or Hispanic/Latino. According to the most recent SBAC scores, only three out of ten Black/African American or Hispanic/Latino students are on track in ELA. Only two out of ten of these students are on track in math.
  • Far too many students in our cities are not getting the education they need to succeed. More than two-thirds of children who attend schools in our cities like New Haven, Hartford, and Bridgeport are not on track for postsecondary readiness in either math or ELA.
  • In the lowest-performing traditional district in the state where over 4,000 students participate in taking the SBAC each year, about 500 students met the standard in Math. This means that in a class size of 20, only 2 children in the class are on track to be ready for life after high school.

Bright Spots

Seven districts with a higher percentage of Black, Hispanic/Latino, and/or students eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch that the state overall outperformed the state average in ELA and math. Three are traditional districts: Griswold, Montville, and Groton. Four districts are state charter schools (individual charter schools are considered districts in Connecticut): Booker T. Washington Academy, Brass City Charter School, Elm City College Preparatory School, and Side by Side Charter School.

Of the 186 districts with available data, New Haven’s Booker T. Washington Academy is the highest performing overall in math and 33rd highest-performing district in ELA: 87.1% of Booker T. Washington Academy’s students are on track be ready for college and career. These students are outperforming children in math in our wealthiest districts, like New Canaan and Darien, 85.1% and 80.9%, respectively. 86% of students who attend Booker T. Washington Academy are Black or African American, and 82% quality for free and reduced-price lunch.

“We must do more, faster, to ensure that our children are ready to succeed. Our students and our economy cannot wait decades,” said ConnCAN’s Alexander. “Fortunately, we know what it would take to deliver a quality public education to every student in Connecticut. The bright spots in these scores point to a way forward. We call on our state and local leaders to accelerate progress and make bold strides to deliver a high-quality education to all children.”

ConnCAN will conduct more extensive SBAC analysis, including growth data, when complete results are released in August.

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