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Easton's Third-Graders Boost State Test Scores

EASTON, Conn. – The town's third-graders ranked first in writing and second in reading when Connecticut Mastery Test results are compared to similar towns' scores. The third-graders also increased from 2010 in those at or above goal across all sections of the test.

"The third grade did exceptional in all three areas," said Marie McPadden, interim superintendent and director of curriculum. "It's really hard for students. This is their first time taking a standardized test. Given the number of years they've been in school, we're very pleased with the reading and writing scores."

McPadden said Superintendent Michael Cicchetti had implemented a new system of measurable goals. The third grade team worked on reading, focusing on reading for meaning.

"This shows how focused effort really pays off," said McPadden. She said a "concerted effort" has been made in kindergarten to support students who can read as well as those who are learning to read. "Children are excited early on and we need to support that – and teachers are doing that."

Maia Kesselmark, who just finished fourth grade in Weston, was in the Easton Public Library on Wednesday checking out a summer reading book.

"I didn't think it was that hard," Maia said of the Connecticut Mastery Test she took this past school year. "The math was probably the hardest. ... It's not really the math we do in class. ... I wasn't really ready for it."

The percentage of students scoring at or above goal in sixth grade decreased across the sections, and McPadden said writing in Grade 6 will be a topic of discussion. The percentage of sixth grade students at or above goal in writing dropped by 9.4 percentage points from 2010 to 79 percent – the lowest in District Reference Group A, which is made up of seven towns: Easton, Redding, Ridgefield, New Canaan, Weston, Wilton and Westport. Easton also scored the lowest in fifth grade reading, with 82.7 percent at or above goal. Wilton scored the highest, with 89.3 percent at or above goal.

Overall, McPadden said she is "very excited" about the results. "The middle school scores are very, very competitive – almost all of them are in the 90s," said McPadden. "Grade 8 reading scored 96.1 percent – and we're very pleased with writing as well. ... In the DRG, we are very competitive across the board in all areas."

Seventh-graders scored the highest percent in at or above goal in writing with 94 percent.

"With budgets being tight like they have been in the past few years, the teachers' instruction is still very strong – that's really what makes the difference," said McPadden. "We have an excellent staff with great administration at both Samuel Staples Elementary School and Helen Keller Middle School. HKMS had a tough time with the death of Joan Parker. The teachers continued to work very hard and I think she would be really proud if she saw these numbers."

What do you think about the Connecticut Mastery Test? Leave your comments below.

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