Hartford Public Schools are celebrating an improvement on state test scores.
For the first time in seven years, Hartford Public Schools have seen an increase in reading scores for all grade levels. It's just one aspect of the district's second straight year of improvement on the Connecticut Mastery Test and Connecticut Academic Performance Test.
The district met six of the seven performance targets that are considered key indicators of improved learning, including a 4.2 percent increase in third grade reading scores.
"A student who is reading at grade level at the end of third grade has about a 90 percent chance of graduating from high school," said Hartford School Superintendent Dr. Steven Adamowski.
University High School was the top performing school in the district, but Dwight Elementary was the school that made the most improvement.
"I'm really proud of my staff. All of their hard work really paid off, and I think we're all reaping the benefits of their hard work," said Stacey McCann, principal of Dwight Elementary.
"We made sure that we tailored our instruction to really meet the needs of our unique learners. It was a lot of hard work and dedication, but we're truly enjoying the success," said Rose Bencivengo-Higgins, a teacher at Dwight Elementary.
The Superintendent says the schools still need to concentrate on performing even better. One area that needs work is tenth grade writing.
"Despite two years of very significant improvement, way above the state's rate of improvement, we have miles to go. We have another eight years of this before the achievement gap is closed," said Dr. Adamowski.
That will be especially difficult next school year. The district had to cut $21 million from its budget. It laid off about 250 positions, including 99 teachers.
"We have to find a way to continue this level of progress at a resource level that's much lower than the district has had in the past," said Dr. Adamowski.
The district is already thinking of more ways to close the achievement gap.
"There are a few groups that I know we need to pay more attention to. I'm talking about special education, we have a great plan coming forward, English language learners and the gifted and talented," said Ada Miranda, Chair of the Board of Education.
Schools are optimistic that test scores will continue to improve as long as good teachers remain in the district.
"As long as we have good teaching, our students will continue to sustain their gains," said McCann.