Mead School was like several around the state Monday (March 5) kicking off the start of the Connecticut Mastery Test season with pep rallies and other events.
Connecticut third through eighth grade students take the standardized tests each spring to evaluate how the schools and districts are doing.
But at Mead School, the students and staff were celebrating past successes as well as pumping up for the big test.
Mead School was one of 24 out of about 1,000 schools in the state to be recognized by the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) for its improving test scores last year.
Officials from ConnCAN, an education advocacy group, visited the school during the pep rally to deliver a plaque and a message:
“You’re proving every day it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, whether you’re rich or poor,” ConnCAN’s Chief Operating Officer Anna Marcucio said. “You guys can succeed.”
Principal Terri Goldson asked students and teachers from each grade level to accept the plaque together.
“It’s a team effort,” Goldson said. “About all of us doing our best.”
Mead school was named one of ConnCAN’s 2011 “Success Story Schools.” The designation is given to schools with a combined minority and low-income population of at least 75 percent whose students perform above state averages on standardized tests.
That was overwhelmingly the case at Mead School in 2011.
About 70 percent of low-income students at Mead School met the state goals on the test, while only about 40 percent of low-income students across the state met the same goals, according to the ConnCAN analysis.
Meanwhile, 81 percent of Hispanic students met state goals on the tests at Mead School, while only 40 percent of Hispanic students across the state met the same goals.
Mead School Report Cards
ConnCAN is an education advocacy group in Connecticut that analyzes public education and tries to push for education policy changes.
Each year the group issues school report cards that analyze how each school and district performed on standardized tests.
The ConnCAN review then gives each school letter grades in different categories, to help make the voluminous data more accessible for the average parent.
In 2011 Mead School received high marks from ConnCAN — and improved over its 2010 scores:
- A — Performance gains, the amount of change a group of students show on tests. Mead School received a ‘C-’ in 2010.
- B+ — Achievement Gap, the difference in performance between low-income and minority students, and their non low-income and white peers. Mead School received a ‘B-’ in 2010.
- B — Student subgroup performance, the percentage of low-income, African American and Hispanic students meeting state goals across all subjects. Mead School received a ‘C-’ in 2010.
- B — Overall student performance. Mead School received a ‘C’ in 2010.
Goldson credited raised expectations and “mutual respect” for the improvements.
“High expectations and mutual respect go a long way in the schools,” Goldson said. “It’s that belief that we can do anything and we can be successful. That’s something you want to teach kids in any situation — that they can be successful.”
Goldson said the higher expectations apply to all academics — not just around CMT time.
The Pep Rally
But CMT time is when it all counts.
The tests, along with the CAPT exams for high school sophomores, help judge whether schools are successfully teaching the right skills to students.
The results also show whether achievement gaps exist between low-income and non low-income students, or between minority and white students.
The percentage of students who reach different levels on the tests affects the school and district’s standing for No Child Left Behind requirements.
Ansonia has seen firsthand what the scores can mean.
The district was reorganized in 2009, after Mead School and the Ansonia Middle School failed to meet No Child Left Behind requirements for several years in a row.
This year, Ansonia is also losing federal and state grants it received as a Priority School District, because it has improved its test scores.
So school staff try to make sure the students are ready for the tests.
Monday’s pep rally featured Ansonia High School cheerleaders and band members playing the theme from “Rocky.” Goldson even joined in with the drum line for a couple minutes as students rolled into the gymnasium.
Teachers faced off with basketball free-throw contests and performed a skit for the students.
The skit highlighted the school’s “top 10 tips for crushing the competition on the CMTs.”
Teachers violated all the rules to illustrate what can go wrong when you show up late to the CMTs, or ask questions after the direction time period, or distract students who are taking the tests.
The pep rally ended with the 600 students performing the “Mead School Beat.”
The sixth graders began the beat, stomping out the rhythm, and clapping four times. Each class joined in, one at a time, until all 600 students were stomping their feet and clapping in unison.
Watch the video above to see it in action.
“And we’re going to be on the right beat all month long,” Goldson said to the students.