By Abbe Smith, Register Staff

Published by New Haven Register, November 24, 2010

Two education reports issued this month offer some positive news about schools across the state, but highlight the persistent problem of a wide achievement gap in Connecticut.

The results are in from a national math and reading test given for the first time to high school seniors throughout Connecticut, and students performed better than the national average.

State Education Commissioner Mark K. McQuillan hailed the results of the National Assessment of Education Progress as good news for Connecticut. But he lamented the fact that test results show a lingering achievement gap.

“This assessment shows that overall, our students perform better than their counterparts across the country,” McQuillan said in a statement. “However, the results also show that Connecticut’s achievement gaps persist among racial and ethnic groups, and that we should be looking toward all students performing at higher levels in mathematics if we expect to have a competitive workforce in the future economy.”

Also this week, in a report released by school reform nonprofit Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, New Haven scored low for overall student performance but had some glimmers of good news. Last week, ConnCAN released its 2010 School Report Card, which assigns grades to more than 1,000 schools and 160 school districts across the state. The grades are based on student achievement in five categories: academic performance for low-income, black, and Hispanic students; performance gains, for example, this year’s fifth-graders versus last year’s fourth-graders; and improvement, for example, this year’s fifth-graders versus last year’s fifth-graders.

While New Haven as a school district scored consistently low in overall student performance, several individual schools in New Haven made the list of top schools in the state. Among them are Lincoln-Bassett School, for performance gains and improvement; Worthington Hooker School, for low-income student performance; John C. Daniels School, for Hispanic student performance; and Christopher Columbus Academy, for improvement.

Also making the list were New Haven charter schools Amistad Academy, Elm City College Preparatory School and Common Ground High School. Other neighboring districts also had schools on the list, including North Haven, Branford, North Branford and Cheshire high schools, Platt Technical High School in Milford, Robert W. Carbone School and D.C. Moore School in East Haven, West Woods School and Shepherd Glen School in Hamden, and Baldwin Middle School in Guilford.

“The data allow us to have an honest conversation about the performance of our public schools so that we can maintain a laser-sharp focus on our most important task: improving student outcomes across the board,” said ConnCAN Executive Director Alex Johnston in a statement.

Each year, ConnCAN also releases a list of “success story” schools that are “leading the way in raising student achievement and helping close the state’s achievement gap.”

In order to make the “success story” list, schools must rank in the top three in one of ConnCAN’s lists of top schools and the school must have a combined low-income and minority population or at least 75 percent. Local schools that made the “success” list were Hooker School, Amistad Academy and Elm City College Preparatory School.

To view the report, go to