Scores show advances in student achievement

In response to community members’ claims in 2013-14 that the “efficiency and effectiveness of the Wilton Public Schools had declined significantly over the past 20 years,” Assistant Superintendent Charles Smith said, he put together two student achievement data comparisons.
He presented his two comparison summaries — which showed results opposite to the claims — to the Board of Education at its July 23 meeting.
The first summary compared student achievement in 1993 and 2013, and the second summary included trend data over the past five years — from 2009 to 2013.
“I looked at student achievement data, AP performance, enrollment, graduation rates and college attendance,” Smith told the board.
“During that 20-year period of time,” said Dr. Smith, “Wilton students made significant gains in all measures of academic success.”
Smith used Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and the SAT data to measure student achievement.
According to his data comparison, the percentage of Wilton students who met CMT goals increased in every test area — math, reading and writing — over that 20-year time span.

Smith also found that the average SAT mathematics score of a Wilton student increased by 57 points, and the average critical reading — formerly “verbal” — score increased by 83 points.
According to Smith’s comparison, enrollment increased by the following number of students at each Wilton school:

  • Elementary schools: 410.

  • Middle school: 468.

  • High school: 589.

Although the graduation rate went from 99% in 1993 to 98.75% in 2013, Smith’s comparisons show college attendance rose by 2.34 percentage points — from 91.04% in 1993 to 93.38% in 2013.
As for AP performance, Dr. Smith found that:

  • The number of students taking AP classes has increased 447% — from 72 students in 1993 to 394 in 2013.

  • The number of AP classes taken has increased 571.5% — from 137 in 1993 to 920 to 2013.

  • The percentage of students achieving credit for AP courses has increased 5.4 points — from 78.1% in 1993 to 83.5% in 2013. (These numbers do not include students who took the course but did not take the test.)

Past five years

Smith’s second comparison summary indicates student performance has been consistently high and relatively stable during the past five years.
The SAT data, he noted, “indicate that Wilton consistently performs in the top five of Connecticut’s school districts, frequently in the top three districts.”
Although the five-year comparison showed fluctuation in all three areas of AP performance, Smith said the AP data “indicate significant increases in both access/equity as well as overall achievement.”
To compare student achievement, Smith used data from CMT testing of fourth, sixth and eighth graders, and CAPT testing of 10th graders.
The data revealed fluctuations in the percentages of students meeting test goals in each category and on every grade level, except fourth grade CMT math and reading, which increased each year.
The five-year comparison also showed a little fluctuation in graduation rates over the past five years.

“It is always important to keep in mind ... that fluctuations in the data may not be meaningful,” Smith said, “and may in fact be susceptible to biases caused by changes in the composition of the student population.”
He said this is particularly true for high-performing districts over a relatively short period of time.
Overall, “the data did not bear out” the claims made by members of the community, said Smith, who has noticed that “the claims of the public have decreased.”
Click here to view Dr. Smith’s achievement comparisons.