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June 28, 2004 Extra Credit
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June 28, 2004

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June 23
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Connecticut Superintendents Credit NCLB For Improved Student Achievement in the State's Poorest Communities

The following are excerpts from recent articles in The Hartford Courant and the New Britain Herald highlighting how No Child Left Behind is closing the achievement gap between Connecticut's poorest communities-the cities of Bridgeport, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven, New London and Waterbury and the town of Windham-and the rest of the state:

"Particularly noteworthy among the results [of the 2003 Connecticut Mastery Test], said [State Education Commissioner Betty J.] Sternberg, 'is we have a very big increase in the participation rate of youngsters in (the state's poorest communities).' Even so, Sternberg said schools in those communities are improving faster than the rest of the state, even though more children with special education needs and English-speaking challenges are taking the test to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The percentage of fourth-graders taking the test who have limited English proficiency, for example, has nearly doubled since 2000, from 46 to 93 percent. "

"She said conventional wisdom holds that higher participation would lead to lower scores. But instead, Sternberg noted that the percentage of students reaching proficiency in eighth-grade math in Connecticut's poorest cities increased by about 4 percentage points since 2000, while the rest of the state posted gains of 0.3 percent. The trend was similar on other sections of the test. 'Even though the percentages don't sound big, it actually is an indication we are beginning to close the gap,' said Sternberg, who has made the achievement gap the No. 1 priority of her administration." - New Britain Herald (6-26-04)

"The progress in the scores comes even as the number of students taking the test is increasing. In the same time period that the cities narrowed the gap in fourth-grade reading, they saw a 10.2 percentage point increase in the number of children taking the test, the state found. That the scores are rising even while more students are taking the test is a point of pride among the urban superintendents. 'When you test more, the mean average tends to go down,' said Waterbury Superintendent David L. Snead."

"President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act shares some of the credit in moving the city scores, superintendents said. 'We stepped it up a bit because of all the pressure coming down from NCLB,' Snead said. New London Superintendent Christopher Clouet also gave a nod to the federal law, saying, 'The good news about the mastery tests and the No Child Left Behind link is it forced schools to focus on reading instruction in a way that had not been done before.'" - The full article is available from the Hartford Courant online archives for a free (6-26-04)

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Last Modified: 03/26/2008