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Most local education officials encouraged by latest state data

Most local education officials encouraged by latest state data

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Education officials touted improvement by state schools after releasing assessment data Friday.

Area districts improved scores from the previous year. Southington, Wallingford and Cheshire scored above the state average. Meriden scored below.

The system awards points for criteria such as academics, graduation rates, absenteeism, physical fitness and arts access. Points are based on the results of state testing in areas such as English language arts, science, math and physical fitness.

Ajit Gopalakrishnan, the state Board of Education’s chief performance officer, said results showed progress in many areas.

“We’re heading up in the right direction,” he said.

The score helps schools districts determine where they need to improve and where state resources and help is most needed.

“It’s for us to identify schools that need our support,” Gopalakrishnan said.

The state listed 160 schools as schools of distinction, recognizing growth in various areas. Of local schools, Cheshire had two, Norton and Highland elementary schools, and Meriden had three, Hanover, Barry and Hooker elementary schools.

Mark Benigni, Meriden school superintendent, said the growth was encouraging.

“It’s good news for the district,” he said. “It’s a validation of all the hard work of our student and staff.”

The city’s schools all improved in 11 of the 12 aspects of the accountability system. While there was a decrease in six-year graduation rates, Benigni pointed out there were gains in the four-year graduation rate.

Some schools, including those recognized as schools of distinction, showed double-digit growth in the state’s evaluation.

Cheshire school superintendent Jeff Solan said he was pleased with the recognition of Highland and Norton schools. Overall, the district improved in math and English language arts and rose in rankings of similarly-sized towns.

“We will further evaluate results across the district and within all schools as continuous school improvement remains a top priority,” Solan said.

Tim Connellan, Southington school superintendent, said his district has its own ways of measuring student progress and that the state’s results were “not very helpful.”

Local metrics “are much more useful and preferable to any system the state can implement,” Connellan said. “Connecticut’s Next Generation Accountability System is an improvement upon the previous system, but it is not something that we find practical or useful. The data contained in the report is not new data.”

The system is the result of a federal mandate, Connellan said, and includes information that schools are already required to collect and report.

Twitter: @JBuchananRJ