Results of the 2015 Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test were released for Connecticut last Friday, and for Wilton — a district accustomed to at least 70% of its students meeting or exceeding standardized test achievement levels — the scores weren’t quite up to par.
Based on the Common Core State Standards, the SBACs test third through eighth and 11th graders in English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics, and they are scored on four levels:


  • Level 1: Does not meet the achievement level.

  • Level 2: Approaching the achievement level.

  • Level 3: Meets the achievement level.

  • Level 4: Exceeds the achievement level.


In Wilton, 73.6% of students who took the test met or exceeded the achievement level in ELA/Literacy and 57.3% met or exceeded the achievement level in mathematics. More precise scoring is expected to be released in late January. Scores for individual students will also be released to schools.

Wilton had the lowest ELA/Literacy and mathematics achievement levels of the nine DRG-A school districts, while Darien had the highest in both — 85.3% in ELA and 75.9% in math.
The other seven DRG-A districts had the following percentages of students meeting or exceeding the ELA achievement goal:

  • Westport: 85.1%.

  • Region 9: 84.9%.

  • New Canaan: 82.2%.

  • Ridgefield: 82%.

  • Weston: 78.4%.

  • Redding: 77%.

  • Easton: 75.6%.


Here are the percentage of students who met or exceeded the math achievement goal in the other seven districts:

  • New Canaan: 74.1%.

  • Westport: 72.8%.

  • Weston: 70%.

  • Region 9: 68.5%.

  • Redding: 67.6%.

  • Ridgefield: 66.2%.

  • Easton: 63.1%.



As a whole, Wilton students performed as follows:
ELA/Literacy:

  • 9.6% at Level 1.

  • 16.8% at Level 2.

  • 41.7% at Level 3.

  • 31.9% at Level 4.


Mathematics:

  • 13.6% at Level 1.

  • 29.2% at Level 2.

  • 31.3% at Level 3.

  • 26.0% at Level 4.

  • By grade level, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding the achievement level was as follows:


ELA/Literacy:

  • Grade 3: 76.1%.

  • Grade 4: 66.4%.

  • Grade 5: 76.1%.

  • Grade 6: 73.2%.

  • Grade 7: 80.8%.

  • Grade 8: 86.6%.

  • Grade 11: 55.8%.


Mathematics:

  • Grade 3: 66.5%.

  • Grade 4: 57.3%.

  • Grade 5: 46.6%.

  • Grade 6: 48.3%.

  • Grade 7: 65.3%.

  • Grade 8: 55.4%.

  • Grade 11: 61.9%.


Superintendent Kevin Smith told The Bulletin on Friday the school district is “busy analyzing and unpacking” its SBAC scores.
“These scores provide a baseline against which we can assess our progress aligning our curriculum and instruction to new and more rigorous standards,” said Dr. Smith.
Statewide, 55.4% of students met or exceeded the achievement level in ELA/Literacy and 39.1% of students met or exceeded the achievement level in mathematics.
These scores were as state officials expected, a press release from the state Department of Education (DOE) said.
“The scores were expected to look dramatically lower than previous test scores because of the alignment of the curricula, standards, and exams to higher-level thinking requisite for college and career success,” said the press release.
The DOE said that because the SBAC tests different content and skills, the results cannot be compared to the state’s old CAPT and CMT exams.
“Now that we’ve received the first year’s results, our teams will be evaluating them to understand what our student results are telling us,” Wilton Board of Education Chair Bruce Likly told The Bulletin.
Before that analysis is done, he said, “there are no immediate conclusions we can draw with any level of accuracy.”
“As with all standardized tests,” Likly said, “we will use this data to better understand the overall performance of our teaching and learning environment, from year-to-year and cohort-to-cohort, to see where we have cause for celebration and what adjustments we may want to consider making going forward.”

Students with disabilities


Among Wilton students with disabilities, 27.5% met or exceeded the ELA achievement level, while 18% met or exceeded the math achievement level.
The DOE defines a student with high needs as “someone who is eligible for free/reduced priced meals or is an English learner or a student with a disability.” In Wilton, the following percentages of students with high needs met or exceeded SBAC achievement levels:
Cider Mill:

  • ELA/Literacy : 29.1%.

  • Mathematics: 22.4.%.


Middlebrook:

  • ELA/Literacy : 33.6%.

  • Mathematics: 17.9%.


Wilton High School:

  • ELA/Literacy : 25%.

  • Mathematics: 25%.


Race/ethnicity


In terms of race and ethnicity, Asian students had the highest percentage of Level 3 and Level 4 ELA/Literacy achievement in Wilton (87.1%). Other races and ethnic groups in the district fared as follows:

  • Two or more races: 86%.

  • White: 72.5%.

  • Hispanic/Latino of any race: 62.9%.

  • Black or African-American: 48.4%.


At 83.6%, Asian students also had the highest percentage of Level 3 and 4 achievement in math, followed by the following races and ethnic groups:

  • Two or more races: 69.8%.

  • White: 54.6%.

  • Hispanic/Latino of any race: 45.9%.

  • Black or African-American: 35.5%.


Participation


In 2015, the SBACs replaced the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) in both arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics for students in grades 3-8 and 10. Students still take the CMT Science in fifth and eighth grades, and the CAPT Science in 10th grade.
The SBAC tests have been a source of controversy across the country, with many students opting out of taking them this year.
In Connecticut, approximately 4% of the nearly 300,000 public school students eligible to take the SBAC did not.
While some Wilton students opted out of testing, Dr. Smith told The Bulletin, “there weren’t many.”
According to DOE data, 98% of Wilton students participated in the English portion of the SBAC and 97.7% participated in the math portion.
ELA participation percentages at each Wilton school were as follows:

  • Cider Mill: 99.3%.

  • Middlebrook: 98.5%.

  • Wilton High School: 93.7%.


Math participation percentages at each Wilton school were as follows:

  • Cider Mill: 99.3%.

  • Middlebrook: 97.5%.

  • Wilton High School: 94.6%.


Politicians respond


In a statement issued Aug. 28, Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26) said, “I continue to hear from teachers, parents and students about the significantly more than usual anxiety students are experiencing, the volume of testing and concerns about the loss of instruction time in our classrooms.”
While she agreed it is important to measure a student’s academic growth, she thought the transition to the new tests could have been smoother.
“There is now a committee comprised of educators that is looking into many aspects of the test that has yet to report its findings,” she said.
“The Education Committee is certain to review their recommendations and seriously consider any changes that are suggested. We must work together and reclaim Connecticut’s reputation for top-of-the-nation educational excellence.”
State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) said in a statement, “No effort should be spared to ensure that everyone understands the SBAC’s intended goals and has a framework for interpreting the scores. This is especially critical now, at the start of a new school year. While teachers should ideally be able to use the results constructively, it’s also important that no student or teacher should be held back in their work or enthusiasm by worries or concerns these results might cause.”
Click here  to view the SBAC results.
—Jeannette Ross contributed to this story