data: celebrating success and addressing areas to improve

Administrators look critically at data each year to make curricular and instructional changes. We also review our rough cohort information, which tracks students starting in 3rd grade when they take their first standardized assessment through the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). However, student populations might change from year to year, so this information is considered “rough” data.

We followed our 4th graders (current 8th) from 2015 on the SBAC assessment. These students showed growth each year in ELA (English/Language Arts), moving from 75% at *Level 3 or above in 2015, 76% in 2016, 69% in 2017 and 76% in 2018, which put Newtown in the middle of our DRG (District Reference Group) ahead of other districts socioeconomically similar to our own. In math, our current 8th graders moved from 56% at Level 3 or above in 2015, 65% in 2016, 67% in 2017, and 69% in 2018, but scores dipped 2% as students moved into 8th grade.

We also review grade level cohorts each year. Although these are different groups of students, this information tells a story about our performance related to instruction and relative to other districts in DRG B, which compares Newtown to districts that are socioeconomically similar to our own. For example, our 3rd grade in English/Language arts performed at the top of DRG B, outperforming all other districts in that group. Just to provide some context for this: 11 of 20 districts in our DRG decreased their scores from previous years. This is not atypical of districts to fluctuate, including our own, and might signal changes that curricular or instructional changes need to be made.

Further, Newtown remained in the middle of our DRG in 6th and 7th grade math, having gone up after decreased scores in 2016. Another example is the performance of our current 7th graders who fell 1% from the previous year when they were 5th graders, but increased by 5 percentile points to 70% at level 3 or above in 2018.

We continue to monitor our scores across 4th and 5th grades (see scores below). These scores (grade cohort) decreased over the last two years. Therefore, we are using interim assessments to monitor student performance, identify areas of concern, and provide direct interventions and support in math and literacy. These assessments will help prepare students for upcoming SBAC testing in grades 3-8.

While we do track students' performance on standardized assessments in grades 3-8 and again during SATs at the high school level, our in-house instructional assessments are critically important in identifying strengths and areas to target, as these measures of student growth are more genuinely connected to daily instruction and student progress.

Teachers evaluate student performance in the following ways:

  • classroom assessments
  • independent or group projects
  • observations
  • individual and group conferencing


Areas to celebrate


· Grade 3 ELA (Top of DRG) 80% Increased from 2015-17

· Grade 3 Math (Top of DRG) 82% Increased from 2015-17

· Grade 6 ELA 72% Increased from 2016-17

· Grade 6 Math 70% Increased from 2016-17

· Grade 7 ELA 76% Increased from 2016-17

· Grade 8 ELA 76% Increased from 2016-17

*Level 3 or above represents achievement levels. Based on their scaled scores, students fall into one of four categories of performance called achievement levels. Achievement levels are defined by Achievement Level Descriptors, the specifications for what knowledge and skills students display at each level (i.e., Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, and Level 4). Students performing at Levels 3 and 4 are considered on track for demonstrating the knowledge and skills necessary for college and career readiness.


Additional Facts to Celebrate

· NHS 2018 U.S. News #18 CT/Silver Medal Based on State data

· NHS 2019 Niche #21 in CT Based on State data

· NHS 96% 4-year graduation rate Based on State data


Areas to address


· Grade 4 ELA 68% Decreased from 2015-16

· Grade 4 Math 66% Decreased from 2016-17

· Grade 5 ELA 72% Decreased from 2016-17

· Grade 5 Math 53% Decreased from 2016-17


NHS SAT (math) 556 Decreased from 2016-17

· NHS SAT (language arts) 557 Decreased from 2016-17