Connecticut students didn’t do very well on a
new and harder test and that’s okay. In fact, it would be strange if they had knocked it out of the park because truth be told, the majority of them haven’t yet been prepared to hit that home run. As the state embarks on a path of greater preparation for college and career, a clearer picture will emerge for parents about how their children are doing. But, as is almost always the case when expectations for performance rise, there is an adjustment period for all involved. “It is our job to set the bar high,” Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell said in releasing the results. “We know that when we set high expectations for children, they always meet them.” Commissioner Wentzell is right to be confident. She considers this first round of test results to be a new baseline and believes Connecticut students will meet the tougher standards. She’s quick to point out that younger students, many of whom have spent most of their years in school under the Common Core, generally fared better than their older counterparts. Wentzell also can’t shy away from the disparities in performance between white, black and Hispanic students: 67.3 percent of white students passed language arts compared to 30.3 percent of black students and 32.8 percent of Hispanic students. For math, the pass rate for white students was 50.3 percent compared to 13.9 percent for black students and 17.3 percent for Hispanic students. “We have to be honest about the disparities in our students’ achievement,” Wentzell said, pointing out that the state has been working more intensely with its large urban districts. Teachers, kids and parents will get used to the new standards over time and I know that results will improve. With the right commitment to giving kids the best of us, they’ll give us their best right back. Perhaps Jenn Alexander of
ConnCan (Connecticut Campaign for Achievement Now) says it best when she calls this a fresh start. “The release of these new results gives us an opportunity, like never before, to see how our students’ progress compare to students in other states,” she said. “We must use this information as a new beginning to help all our students succeed.”
Erika Sanzi is a mother of three sons and taught in public schools in Massachusetts, California and Rhode Island. She has served on her local school board in Cumberland, Rhode Island, advocated for fair school funding at the state level, and worked on campaigns of candidates she considers to be champions for kids and true supporters of great schools. She is currently a Fordham senior visiting ...