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CSDE: 2018-19 Smarter Balanced Assessments Results Show Improvements in Student Achievement

Improvements among High Needs Students Outpace those seen Statewide

(Hartford, CT) – The Connecticut State Department of Education today released the results of the 2018-19 Smarter Balanced assessment which is the accountability assessment in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics for students in Grades 3 through 8. These online assessments have been used in the state since 2014-15 and are aligned to Connecticut’s Core Standards. In 2018-19, statewide ELA and Mathematics achievement increased to their highest levels. More importantly, high needs students (those who are either English learners, students with disabilities, and/or from low income families) are showing stronger improvement than the state as a whole in both subjects and reflect their highest achievement ever in both subjects and in all grades in 2018-19.

“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,” said Governor Ned Lamont. “The improvements we are seeing in this latest round of assessments are a testament to the dedication of our teachers – they are to be commended for their efforts.”

“While we continue to see promising year-to-year increases for all student groups meeting or exceeding their achievement benchmark in both ELA and math, our mission to close gaps around the state remains a priority,” said Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona. “Together with our districts and school leaders, we will identify the local practices that are working and focus our support on the instructional core at the heart of our work.  A strong instructional core which includes connection with students, a strong curriculum, and effective teaching and leadership serve as the foundation for achieving successful outcomes for all students regardless of zip code.” 

In 2018-19, statewide ELA achievement improved slightly for the second year in a row. The percentage of students meeting the proficiency benchmark increased from 55.3 percent in 2017-18 to its highest ever at 55.7 percent in 2018-19. Grades 6 and 7 reflected their highest achievement ever. Over 50 percent of students in all grades met the proficiency benchmark.

Statewide Mathematics achievement showed strong improvement in all grades to reach their highest levels in 2018-19. The overall percentage of students meeting the proficiency benchmark improved from 46.8 percent in 2017-18 to 48.1 percent in 2018-19. As was the case in 2016-17 and 2017-18, over 50 percent of students in Grades 3 and 4 met the proficiency benchmark. Statewide proficiency in Mathematics has increased 9.2 percentage points since the state began administering the Smarter Balanced assessments in 2014-15.

High needs students reflect their highest achievement in 2018-19 and are improving at a rate that is faster than the state as a whole. When evaluated separately, students from low income families, English learners, and students with disabilities are also showing improvements.

Matched cohort growth results evaluate the growth achieved by the same student from one year to the next. They are a better indication of curriculum/instructional effectiveness. This growth is evaluated based on Connecticut’s Smarter Balanced Growth Model. The growth model expects all students to achieve above average growth on the Smarter Balanced scale annually so that they are on pace to reach/maintain high levels of achievement. The growth data reveal that students statewide are on average only reaching about 60 percent of their annual growth targets. In order to accelerate improvements in achievement, students need to reach close to 100 percent of their annual growth targets. There are many schools across the state that are consistently achieving strong growth year after year.  These schools exist in all districts throughout the state, including several in Alliance Districts. The CSDE has been reaching out to these high growth schools and districts to identify promising practices and share those through forums and publications.

The complete results for the state, districts and schools, and student groups are available on the public EdSight portal at



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