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Hartford Test Scores Up Again
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The latest test scores are in, and students in Hartford met almost all of the improvement goals set the by the school district.

Last year was Hartford's first increase after seven years of flat tests scores. Scores jumped for a second year in a row.

"Last year wasn't just a blip of luck."

Penny MacCormick is Hartford's chief academic officer. The percentage of students meeting reading benchmarks was up for every grade level tested. MacCormick says that's particularly satisfying because increasing literacy skills has been a district-wide priority.

"And so to have a year where we increase in every single grade level in reading is significant. And this is the first time that that's happened. "

The biggest increase was in seventh grade -- which saw a seven percent jump in reading proficiency. But that still left four out of ten seventh graders not testing at grade level.

Getting Hartford students above the state average is the ultimate goal, and there's still a long way to go. For this year, though, MacCormick says the district met almost all its incremental targets. 

"If you're looking at line graphs to see, are you on track to close the achievement gap, making the gains that you wanted to make on a year's basis. We can answer yes for 6 out of our 7 targets."

The one problem area was reading and writing at the 10th grade level.

Scores for Special education students, and new immigrant students also improved. And some of Hartford's lowest performing schools were among those posting the biggest gains.

Part of Hartford's strategy is to close schools with lagging scores. At the start of the academic year, Hartford shut down five schools, and opened up nine smaller, redesigned "academies."

Even before the release of these test scores, the progress at Hartford schools has been attracting national media attention, and US Education Secretary Arne Duncan praised Hartford's approach in a speech last month.