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New Haven superintendent calls test scores 'deplorable,' says major change is coming

Arthur Krijgsman

New Haven Superintendent Iline Tracey blames COVID-19 for her district's struggle with standardized testing.

Only 17% of third-graders and 28% of eighth-graders scored at grade level on this year’s state Smarter Balance Assessment reading test.

On the math exam, only 12% of students in the district scored at grade level.

Barnard School reading teacher Sarah Levine asked the city Board of Education on Monday to address the issue without making excuses.

“Please don’t let COVID be used as an excuse,” Levine said. ”The scores were low before COVID. Also, let's not blame parents. As educators, it is our job to teach kids how to read. Further, don’t blame the teachers. We are given the curriculum and mandated to use it, even if it's not working.”

Levine, who is teaching computer coding at summer school, said the students were able to easily pick up the skill. But when asked to name the class project, she said many students could not spell the title.

“How is it possible that students who learn coding in a week do not know how to spell ‘car?’” Levine asked.

Tracey said two years of inconsistent learning during the pandemic led to poor results.

“Yes, the data is deplorable,” Iline said. “The only way we can go is up. That's why the state is using this year's data as baseline information across the state. Because they know what happened. They know that two years away from direct instruction has done a number on our kids and on our teaching.”

Tracey added there is a comprehensive plan in the works. It could include smaller class sizes and adjustments to teacher schedules.

Specifics could be shared at a board Teaching and Learning Committee meeting as soon as this week.

Molly is a reporter covering Fairfield County. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.