It’s probably a good idea not to put too much stock in any one set of results on standardized tests — as the school superintendents in Meriden and Wallingford recently cautioned — but the performance of schools in Meriden and surrounding communities on a statewide standardized assessment released recently by the state Department of Education is worth noting.
While Meriden schools showed a substantial upward trend in their scores from 2016 to 2018, Wallingford schools showed a marked decline.
“I caution everyone to look at this as one test, one measure,” said Meriden School Superintendent Mark Benigni.
In the Record-Journal’s circulation area, Cheshire tends to have the highest scores, followed by Southington, Wallingford and Meriden, in that order.
We are encouraged to see significant progress in Meriden, both in math and in English — even though the state-set proficiency goals have not been met. The results in Cheshire and Southington are either flat or slightly up.
Benigni said Meriden’s improvements are an indication that the state’s Alliance District program, which allows underperforming districts to apply for additional state grants, is working.
Wallingford seems to be lagging in math and English: down from 2016 to 2017 and down again from 2017 to 2018.
“Nobody has a performance review based on one moment in time, so we can’t measure our students at one moment in time, either,” said Wallingford School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo.
This is no cause for panic, but a cause for steady focus, which seems to be Menzo’s approach. “I don’t want to have an inappropriate level of concern,” he said, “but I also don’t want to have an inappropriate level of apathy.”
One problem here is that most of us who are not in the education field probably have little sense of what the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is, what it measures and how important it is. So we turn to Ajit Gopalakrishnan, the state Department of Education’s chief performance officer.
SBAC scores are one piece of a larger picture, Gopalakrishnan said. “It’s not the only indicator by any stretch, but it is an important one.”