Why are Norwalk Public School officials excited about test results this spring?
Despite another challenging pandemic year, students at Norwalk Public Schools, where no fewer than 61 languages are spoken, are making demonstrable strides in standardized tests that measure their readiness to learn more.
What is that all about?
Diane Filardo, Director of Testing and Accountability, and Robert Pennington, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, shared encouraging results with Board of Education members during information sessions over the last month. Both credited skilled teachers for inspiring their students’ consistent, demonstrable results. Specifically, Filardo and Pennington said they noticed a remarkable increase in growth between last fall and this spring.
First, some alphabet talk:
- Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) measures achievement of students in math and language in terms of grade level. To pass, a student is required to meet (level 3) or exceed (level 4) grade-level standards.
- Northwestern Evaluation Association assessments (NWEA) are given in the fall, winter, and spring, and serve as a predictor of achievement in the State of Connecticut SBAC.
In the Norwalk community, critics often challenge the school system for not doing enough in preparing students to meet the Connecticut state standards.
Few would disagree with the need to raise the academic achievement of all Norwalk students. NPS Strategic Priority #1 is future readiness. Reaching proficiency on Connecticut’s SBAC is the stepping-stone indicator of a student’s readiness for further educational, career, and workplace opportunities.
SBAC delivers the facts of achievement. NWEA gives educators more information about predicted achievement by looking at growth.
Here’s where it can get confusing: Say a student taking a series of spelling tests, each featuring different words, scores 80 percent several weeks running. That student would score 50 percent on a growth chart, indicating she had maintained learning. If she began scoring 90 percent, that would indicate growth. When the percentage of growth exceeds 50, that’s when things get exciting. Consistent growth scores of 65 to 70 percent correlate to greater academic achievement to come.
The following chart compares reading growth Grades 3-8 over a half year period between the fall of 2021 and spring of 2022.
This year, in Norwalk, growth is up. Especially notable is the significant growth by Multilingual Learners (MLL). With the NWEA data reviewed, educators can adjust and improve teaching strategies all year. The proof of the pudding will come when the SBAC scores are published in August. Stay tuned.
The data-driven growth information affords an approach to solving the Herculean task of lifting up all students to perform at higher academic levels.
Next topic: NPS Family Center and its role as a linchpin across the system for Student Choice.
All BoE meetings are public. Workshop meetings occur on the first Tuesday of the month when educational partners give presentations. Business meetings occur on the third Tuesday of each month when issues are voted on. Public comment is always welcome. Click here for the link to the calendar for all meetings including BoE committee meetings.
This is a journalistic tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt’s MY DAY periodic column in which she pulled back the curtain, sharing her perspective on experiences she had in the White House. Mary Ellen Flaherty-Ludwig is a Norwalk Board of Education member, representing District E.