Alfonso Robinson

Political activist, online journalist

ConnCAN gives Danbury High School a failing grade


Cross post from HatCityBLOG

UPDATE 1:30PM: A friend writes that ConnCAN’s ranking of Danbury HIgh School is lower than first thought:

The rank number is messed up, too. When there’s a tie, they don’t skip a number. So the rank might go 50, 51, 52, 52 (tie), then they go to 53, 54, etc. Should skip the 53. So Danbury shows a 125th rank, but is actually 145th on the list. Just data nitpicking.

Yesterday, the The Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) released their 2010 School Rankings and when it comes to High School performance, the City of Danbury is an embarrassment.

Out of the 164 high schools in the state of Connecticut, ConnCAN ranks Danbury High 125 with only 30 percent of the students meeting state goals across all subjects (a drop of 2 percent from 2009).

When ConnCAN breaks down DHS’ performance into categories, the news is even harder to swallow.

Here’s how ConnCAN came up with their results:

Each year, Connecticut administers two standardized tests, the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT). These tests are designed to measure how well students are achieving on grade-level academic subjects. Both tests are designed and administered by the State Department of Education.

The CONNECTICUT MASTERY TEST (CMT) is administered each spring to all public school students in grades three through eight. The CMT measures how student achievement in the areas of mathematics, reading, and writing compared to the expectations for their grade level. In fifth and eighth grades, science is also tested.

The CONNECTICUT ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE TEST (CAPT) is administered each spring to all public school students in tenth grade. The CAPT measures student achievement in the areas of mathematics, reading, writing, and science compared to the expectations for high school students.

The skills tested on the CMT and CAPT are identified in the Connecticut curriculum framework, and each student’s achievement is compared to a set of established standards for his or her grade in each subject area. There is no “passing” grade on the CMT or the CAPT. Instead, the State of Department of Education sets a “goal” level score for each subject area in every grade tested. The State Department of Education gives each student a raw score (ranging from 100-400 points) and assigns score cut points for each of five levels: Advanced, At Goal, Proficient, Basic, or Below Basic. The State Department of Education reports scores for schools and districts as the percentage of students scoring at one of these levels. According to the State Department of Education, a student scoring at the “Goal” level has the knowledge, skills, and critical thinking abilities that are “reasonable to expect of students” within their grade level.

ConnCAN uses the Goal standard to set the bar for rating schools since it is the state’s best estimate of students meeting or exceeding grade-level expectations. The State Department of Education reports on the percentage of students “At Goal” in the subjects tested (math, reading, writing and science) for schools in which at least 20 students in any given grade completed the CMT or CAPT.

Given that the education spending takes up the majority of the city’s budget, parents should expect more bang for their buck. Based on these results, if I had a child attending DHS, I’d be rather upset.

Makes you wonder about that so-called English teacher at DHS who arrogantly spends her class time NOT teaching English huh?

For detailed information on ConnCAN’s report, click here. I’ll break down ConnCAN’s report on Danbury’s elementary and secondary schools later.

Categories: General

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15 Responses

  1. Brandon says:

    How is it that some people up here say that us kids are failing? Some of you guys don’t even know how to use the proper spelling of a word, let alone use it in context. If we pitted Senior intellect against some of the people in the community, students like myself would far surpass them. Also the teachers i currently have are amazing some of them have multiple college degrees. So before yu can make a judgement how about you do a little studying?

  2. Abe says:

    Picture this …..

    A newspaper that had a reporter capable of attending Board of ED. meetings with a politically open mind (I know that is not possible but please read on)and with the knowledge and experiencere necessary to report accurately to it’s readers what is actually going on in the school system.

    Then the citizens / parents became informed and interested in how their tax dollars were spent and how their children were being educated.

    Some of these now informed individuals, with serious management experience ran for the Board of Ed and were elected.

    They then began to manage Dr. Sal against the goals they set for him and helped him to meet those goals. When he didn’t they would know how to take action and they would have the skills to find an excellent replacement. And, the newspaper keeps the citizens informed …..

    Picture the Superintendent, now with proper management and the newspaper watching, begins to make progress. The Administrators begin to administer, the teachers teach, the union slinks back to it’s appropriate role …… and the kids begin to learn.

    It all starts with a newspaper properly and honestly informing it’s readers ….. but Publisher Art is as clueless as Dr. Sal

    P.S. Did anyone notice the important point of Alfonso’s blog was totally lost in the readers concern for a single teacher instead of a few thousand students?

  3. Abe says:

    Instead of another copy of the analysis by Cambridge … which I think was excellent … I’d rather see an honest report of the “progress” to date on the issues Cambridge reported … does one exist?

  4. Ken says:

    dissapeared :) Sorry for the typo.

  5. Ken says:

    My post of yesterday WAS awaiting moderation and now it has disspeared. Please advise?

  6. Ken says:

    Deb Stence is a very good teacher so your borderline laughable comment coming from someone who is clearly not an educator is problematic. Yes, this is a single story as Joe states because as Joe noted in his comments and you did not refernence in your last post is that there are many DHS and other Danbury educators who do a great job with students every day. I have been to many BOE meetings and I am very aware of the Cambridge report. I do not deny that DHS has issues that need to be corrected. That being said, several students saying a teacher did not do their job is not a consensus in my opinion. Come to the high school sometime, sit in on a class or two and then tell me what you think education in Danbury is all about. I live it every day and I do know what I am talking about.

  7. Alfonso Robinson says:


    1. I don’t know what your talking about in regards to a comment from you that was not posted.

    2. I never stated that all teachers are DHS are failures BUT your comment that Deb Stence is a good teacher is borderline laughable given her comments at Elise Marciano’s anti-immigrant rally. Also, I’ve talked to several former students of Deb that would take exception to your comment about your beloved English-History hybird teacher.

    3. This is not a single story message as ConnCAN has done this analysis for years and the BOE are aware of the problems in the school system. May I recommend that you attend a few BOE meetings or request a copy of the analysis done for the BOE by Cambridge.

  8. Joe says:

    Stop bashing Deb Stence as she is an awesome teacher. Likewise, as I alluded to in a comment two days ago which you have yet failed to post,not all teachers at DHS are such failures at their job as many readers and as the blog moderator have alluded to. Many teachers of AP have achieved significant success with their students, many of whom had never taken AP courses before as students. Likewise, many educators in Danbury have received numerous awards for what they do and are well respected not just in Danbury, or the state of CT, but nationally and some globally. So lets not just jump on the bandwagon so quickly that Danbury’s schools are failing their kids. Lets be careful of the danger of a single story’s message.

  9. Abe says:

    Danbury has a news paper that reports “the CMT is unfair when students are different ….and parents shoould ignore the results”.

    We have a Board of Edu. made up of a number of political hacks some of whom would have trouble passing the CMT and none of whom know how to manage Dr. Sal.

    We have a schools superintendent that is clueless.

    We have some administrators who have no idea how to administer.

    We have unions who will protect poor teachers and administrators “till the end”.

    And the students …… “we” encourage illegal immigration “we” better figure out how to educate them.

    And Alfonso ….what is more important? Getting Dr. Laura off WLAD or the education of our young? Focus!

  10. concerned citizen says:

    ACE has proven to be a better teaching alternative then the Danbury High School. In fact the high school wants to put kids in the alternative to better prepare them to return to DHS. In fact kids are scoring far higher at ACE then DHS. So, for those stupid comments about the Alternative school, truly take a good look at the results. By the way! They also offer aditional prep classes trough WestConn for the alternative school. What does the high school offer? Nothing!

  11. concerned citizen says:

    Since my kids went to Danbury High School, it has not improved one bit. It’s absolutely shamefull to continue to see kids fal through the cracks and drop out at a very high rate. This board of Ed needs replacement, and so many of the teachers who are their just for a pay check.

    We need the old system of education. Lets go back to when kids had to learn the math tables before 4th grade. When unions were benefiting the community. Now the unions protect the worthless teachers, and take to much from the community.

    This new methode of education, is a big bust for our kids. The liberal changes to education that started back in the late 70′s has proven to be a big failure. Let’s not allow our State or Federal government control how we pay for education. Give the power back to the local governments. With that we can make the change.

  12. DHSer says:

    Mrs Stence taught me in a joint class with another teacher Mrs. Taylor. The class was American Studies which is a double period class that covers both English and History. Mrs. Stence was a good teacher. She may be unorthodox but none of her classes were boring. I have yet to encounter a professor in college that cared as much about their students. Also, standardized testing is a joke.

  13. ctblogger says:

    @Carole: I’ll refer you to a comment made about Deb Stence at another post.

    Ugh…. if she is an English teacher she NEEDS to be teaching English. If she wants to teach history, let her get her history certification and teach it.

    She should NOT be pushing her own agenda in a classroom. She should not be using her english students time to teach them history, epsecially her own brand of history. It’s obvious that she uses her time with students to push her own ideas under the guise of “Oh you poor things aren’t being given history so I’ll help you”.

    According to ConnCAN, 25 percent of DHS students meet the state goals in reading (state average=64 percent), and 39 percent in writing (state average=62). Given these horrible scores, teachers who are certified to TEACH English should focus their energy on TEACHING English as opposed to another subject that has NOTHING to do with the course you are hired to teach. After seeing, and re-watching, Deb’s rant, if my child was enrolled in her class, I’d be outraged.

  14. 2nd mayor says:

    Why is this not a SURPRISE to me , Anybody even think to test the ” Alternative School” and I use the term SCHOOL lightly. You want to see poor {teaching } and lack of guidance , check this place out.

  15. Carole says:

    While I agree that there are some major issues in some of our school systems, I think that it is very unfair and completely outrageous that Alfonso Robinson would pick one person out of the Danbury teaching staff to target. I am a left leaning Democrat and I had Deb as an English teacher. While I never agreed with her political beliefs, I can testify that she is as fine a teacher as I have ever had. She truly cares about her students and she is a warm and encouraging teacher. I don’t know if you know anything about her background, but she has a very inspirational back story. As a single mom with no support, she raised her kids in the projects and became a community advocate while putting herself through school. Yes, Deb integrates a lot of different subjects into English, but this is not an uncommon teaching method- it’s called integrated teaching and has been in effect for years.