State releases grades for every school

Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell watches students in a class for English Language Learners at East Hartford Middle School.

CtMirror.org

Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell watches students in a class for English Language Learners at East Hartford Middle School.

Grading schools on more than just tests scores has been a long time in the works.

But the State Department of Education has now released a zero-to-100 rating for every school in the state based on 19 different measures, including factors such as how many students are chronically absent, enroll in arts and Advanced Placement college-prep courses, graduate from high school and enroll in college within a year of graduation.

“It is more balanced; it doesn’t look only at test scores,” Ajit Gopalakrishnan, the leader of the State Department of Education’s performance office, told the State Board of Education Wednesday. “This is our first salvo into this system.”

“We have really done something important for kids,” said State Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell.

While test scores are no longer the lone measure of a schools’ performance, test scores still account for 80 percent of the ratings for elementary and middle schools. For high school ratings, test scores account for just under half of a schools’ rating.

Officials at the State Department of Education said Wednesday that the agency intends to begin rating schools on their improvement on test scores and other measures starting next year.

The state also intends in upcoming years to classify schools with a simple 1-through-5 rating, based on how a school’s “accountability score” compares with that of others across the state.

On Wednesday, the state released a list of schools that fall into Category 4 or 5, meaning they are in the bottom 10 percent of schools in the state based on their outcomes. Category 5 schools are those that have been identified as the worst performers since 2012 and Category 4 schools are new additions.

Within those bottom two ratings, nearly 100 schools have been placed there because the high-need students in these schools are among the worst performing in the state. Those schools are classified below as “Focus” schools. Another 40 schools have been placed there because the performance of their overall student population is among the worst in the state. Those schools are classified as “Turnaround” schools.

Top-performing schools were also identified as “schools of distinction”. Schools land this classification when its overall zero-to-100 score is among the top 10 percent in the state and no sizable achievement gaps exist between high-need students and their peers. Schools also win this classification when its high-need students test among the top 10 percent in the state.

Find out how your school fared below.

Still confused? Find an explanation of the state’s new accountability system here.

Want to know more? How big are classes at your school? How many students are expelled? How much are teachers paid compared to neighboring schools? Find out here in the Connecticut Mirror’s Your School database, based on the most recent available information.

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