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Barlow Head Gives His Perspective on Test Scores

EASTON, Conn. -- Joel Barlow sophomores did well on the Connecticut Academic Performance Test this year, but the score is "just one number," Principal Thomas McMorran said.

"It doesn't tell us anything about physical fitness, creativity or innovation or the ability to work well on a team, [which] does much more to produce a competent high school graduate," he said. "I don't want to live by them, and I don't want to die by them."

He said scores for Easton and Redding students will "always look better" than the state's average.

"A 90 isn't an A minus--it means 9 out of 10 met goal," said McMorran. "We're not satisfied with 85 or 90--that means 15 percent didn't meet goal. We have to look at it both ways."

A comparison of how the class of 2014 scored as freshmen and then as sophomores would be a better predictor of a trend at the school, the principal said. The Connecticut Mastery Test, administered to students in grades 3 through 8, is "not a good prediction of future performance," he said, because about two dozen of the students tested do not go to Barlow for high school.

Teachers have been accused of "teaching to the test," but McMorran compared it to teaching a pilot to get back on the ground safely. "It's bad when teachers stop valuable work in teaching and learning."

In comparison to other towns in the District Reference Group, Barlow students scored the highest in writing, with 91.9 percent at or above goal. Each town scored 90 percent or more.

"What I do like is that Barlow does not have the massive supplemental tutoring industry that Westport, Wilton, Darien and New Canaan have. Students stay here and work with teachers and go to labs--and they're doing just as well [as the other towns]," said McMorran.

Do you think CAPT scores are a good indication of the high school's performance? Leave your comments below.

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