Connecticut’s standardized test scores — the Smarter Balanced Assessments — show improvements in both math and English for Ridgefield in 2019.

The scores were released Monday, Sept. 9.

In Ridgefield, tests in English Language Arts (ELA) were given to 2,164 students — 98.1 percent of those enrolled — in third through eighth grade. Math tests were given to 2,156 students — 97.8 percent of thos enrolled.

The tests are scored on four levels: Level 1, goal not met; Level 2, approaching goal; Level 3, goal met; and Level 4, exceeded goal.

A total of 1,815 students — 83.9 percent — met or exceeded the goal in ELA. In 2018, 81.1 percent of Ridgefield students met or exceeded the goal in ELA

A total of 1,673 students — 77.6 percent — met or exceeded goal in math. In 2018, 72.3 percent of Ridgefield students met or exceeded the goal in math.

The 2019 scores for ELA broke down as follows:

Level 1 — 88 students, 4.1 percent.

Level 2 — 135 students, 12.1 percent.

Level 3 — 657 students, 35.4 percent.

Level 4 — 801 students, 48.5 percent.

Math scores for 2019 were:

Level 1 — 144 students, 6.3 percent

Level 2 — 304 students, 16.1 percent

Level 3 — 535 students, 26.9 percent

Level 4 — 799 students, 50.7 percent

District Reference Group

For ELA scores, Ridgefield was only bested by New Canaan (89.6 percent) and Darien (84.4 percent) in its District Reference Group (DRG-A) for students who met or exceeded the goal.

Wilton, Easton, Redding, and Weston all trailed Ridgefield in SBAC scores for English Language Arts.

For math scores, Ridgefield fell fourth in DRG-A scoring with New Canaan (88.3 percent), Darien (84.8) and Redding (77.8) for students who met or exceeded the goal.

Easton, Weston, and Wilton trailed Ridgefield in SBAC scores for English Language Arts for math.

Elsewhere in the state

Connecticut standardized test scores released Monday show gains in both reading and math to their highest point under this test.

Still, fewer than half of some 231,000 students in grades three through eight who took the test last spring are deemed at grade level or above in math.

And although there seems to have been some gains made in closing the achievement gap, officials aren’t sure yet by how much.

“Our mission to close gaps around the state remains a priority,” said Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona in a written statement.

In 2019, 34.2 percent of black students and 35.7 percent of Hispanic students statewide were at grade level in reading compared with 69.2 perent of white students and 76.9 percent of Asian students.

In math, 23.3 percent of black students and 27 percent of Hispanic students statewide were at grade level compared with 62.1 percent of white students and 76.9 percent of Asian students. For each group that represented an increase from 2018.

Now in its fifth year of administration, the 2019 Smarter Balanced assessment show average scores, overall, have increased to their highest level since the state began using the test in the 2014-15 school year.

In 2018-19, statewide reading achievement levels improved for the second year in a row, from 55.3 percent in 2017-18 to 55.7 percent in 2018-19. The biggest gain was seen in sixth and seventh grades, state officials said.

In math, there was also strong improvement in all grades statewide. The overall percentage of students meeting the proficiency benchmark improved from 46.8 percent in 2017-18 to 48.1 percent in 2018-19. Students in grades three and four did reach the 50 percent mark in terms of proficiency.

Across the state, there was close to a 99 percent participation rate in the test, state officials said.

The new normal

The test is aligned to the Connecticut Core Standards, considered more rigorous than the previous Connecticut Mastery Test. Unlike that test, which was periodically adjusted, there are no plans to revise the test to which some school districts and teachers are just now getting accustomed.

In a written statement, Gov. Ned Lamont credited teachers for the improved results.

“They are to be commended for their efforts,” Lamont said. “The ability to attract businesses and encourage them to expand and grow in our state is directly connected to the strength of our workforce, which is why it is critical that we provide the youngest in our communities with the tools needed to succeed in today’s economy.”

Cardona called on districts to continue to identify local practices that are working so all students can achieve successful outcomes regardless of their zip code.

High needs students reflected their highest achievement in 2018-19 and are improving at a rate that is faster than the state as a whole. That goes for low income families, English learners and students with disabilities. All are showing improvements.

Ajit Gopalakrishnan, chief of the State Department of Education’s performance department, called the raised performance averages heartening, especially when it comes to high needs students who are concentrated in the state’s 33 Alliance districts. Most of those districts saw healthy percentage gains. Gopalakrishnan said there is also growth at the middle school grades.

By now, students in sixth grade and below have been exposed to common core standards their entire school careers. The standards are considered rigorous and meet federal accountability standards.

Beyond comparing scores one year to the next, the state has also started to track how the same students do over time.

The growth there, Gopalakrishnan said, is not as strong as the department would like it to be.

“Some (districts) are doing it,” he added. “There are examples of high growth in (high needs) districts ... but the short answer is there are no short cuts to improving academic achievement.”

Some have a ways to go. Bridgeport, for instance, shows fewer students over time meeting the growth target.

The complete results for the state, districts and schools, and student groups are available on the public EdSight portal at http://edsight.ct.gov.