Reduced Meal 8th Graders Improvement Plateaus

What do you think is responsible for the sharp decline in rate of progress for Milford Free/Reduced Meal 8th grade students?

At Monday night's Board of Education meeting, Assistant Superintendent Michael Cummings went over a 45-page packet, analyzing CMT, CAPT, DRA & AP test scores with the Board. 

Additionally, there was a 33-page packet titled 'Discussion of 2011-12 Results' that included charts attempting to put the test results into context.

One chart compared Milford 3rd-8th Grade Students who received Free/Reduced Price Meals vs. Students who did not receive Free or Reduced Meals.

As the attached charts show, while there is a gap in achievement between the two groups in 3rd grade, both the Full Price and Free/Reduced Meal students made relatively parallel gains in test scores from 3rd to 7th grade. 

From 7th to 8th grade, however, the Full Price students increase at a somewhat-reduced incline, while the Free/Reduced Meal students went from an approximate 20 point increase in Math and Science scores from 6th to 7th grade to an approximate 10 point increase in Math and close to a 5 point increase in Reading from 7th to 8th grade, down from all previous inclines from 3rd-7th grade.

Cummings pointed out that Free/Reduced Meal students make up about 15% of students in the 3rd-8th grade Milford statistics. 

A recent episode of the radio program This American Life discussed the relationship between non-cognitive skills and the ability to succeed in the classroom.

What do you think is responsible for the sharp decline in rate of progress for Free/Reduced Meal Milford students from 7th to 8th grade?

What do you think Milford Public Schools can/should do to help address this issue? Let us know in the comments section.

Rick September 26, 2012 at 11:36 AM
It says the full price students increased slightly so the schools should review the CMT tests a bit more in the 7th grade. Why are they comparing the kids that get free/reduced lunches? I'm sure there are many advanced children that receive free/reduced lunch. Obviously, the district needs to inform the principals how important it is to review for these tests.
Mark Lofthouse September 26, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Is the BOE hinting at making all meals Reduced/Free to raise test scores? Is so, that dog don't hunt!
Janet Meyer September 26, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Does the meal really make the child? We should be addressing the quality and skills of teachers AND more importantly the quality and skills of parents. Kids face bigger challenges as they grow older and our job is to meet those needs. More should be expected of parent, child and teacher - by teaching and by example. Adults should realize that their example, whatever goes on in homes when children are young is what children consider normal. If the norm is to read, do homework, with healthy family values and activities, sports/exercise/volunteering than that will be the norm for that child because that is what they see in their home. If they see excessive TV watching, fast food, no reading, no mental stimulation, shaky family units, than that is what children will consider normal. Teachers should be constantly challenging students and if they are not able to do so should move aside and let someone more qualified and more stimulating lead the education process. Of course children should have substantial breakfast at home, healthy lunches and dinners - parents should be doing this automatically. Teachers should be the cream of the crop able to teach and stimulate. Let's get those kids fed at home and taught by smart teachers who are devoted to the education of young minds - people who can stimulate and make even the most mundane topics interesting and parents backing them up! I have 2 children and I can count on 1 hand the number of outstanding teachers they had.
Concerned Parent September 26, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Performance based on the price you pay for lunch? That is about the most ridiculous thing I've ever read. Perhaps the BOE should focus on actually TEACHING than EVALUATING. Milford is excellent with evaluations, but fall tragically short on education, which by the way has a direct correlation to the resulting evaluation of childrens' academic performance. If the BOE can take expend the effort to do this type of study, imagine what they can accomplish by exercising some fundamental approaches to educating for our children. From where I'm sitting, they've succeeded in severely impacting a child's overall school experience with most of the ridiculous policies they've put into place.
Ed davies September 26, 2012 at 02:16 PM
While free/reduced lunch is used as the parameter for measurement, the real issue is poverty (what is being measured by using the lunch stats). Research clearly shows that children raised near or below the poverty level have learning obstacles. Access to internet learning is one that comes to mind. It is not really about the lunch.
Concerned Parent September 26, 2012 at 05:23 PM
@Ed davies....Did you ever consider that some people have participated in the Free/Reduced lunch program because they've lost their jobs. The presumptions being made surrounding this program are grossly moronic.
JE September 26, 2012 at 06:37 PM
How unfortunate this patch reporter chose to hilite what was probably a 2 minute part of what must have been a presentation that lasted a couple of hours considering it focused on two reports totalling almost 80 pages of data. The state REQUIRES the reporting out of all the different subgroups of students with free and reduced lunch being just one of several subgroups.
Ryan Sartor (Editor) September 26, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Hi JE: In any 2 hour presentation, one has to focus on specific issues. If it's a question of highlighting positive vs. negative aspects of the presentation, I previously reported on the Improvement in Milford CAPT scores in 2012: http://milford.patch.com/articles/capt-scores-improve-for-milford-high-schools I thought this issue was interesting as it seems to be a genuinely puzzling question and was wondering what the Milford Patch community thought of the issue. Thanks for your feedback and please let me know what you think of future issues regarding Milford Public Schools and Milford in general.
Dee September 27, 2012 at 11:28 AM
If you want to look at declining scores, look into what percentage of this subgroup are IEP students who need special education support. Each year the BOE budget gets cut, even when the increase is ever so slight. These cuts come from somewhere...and at our children's expense. How many IEP'd students in this subgroup received a decline in service hours/wk for that year? Are they not getting the reading or math support they need to learn the ever increasing curriculum? How many of these students who are showing declining test scores were previously showing increasing test scores? You can't look at scores for one year...you need to follow the same group of students over a period of years to show true growth or not.
Concerned Parent September 27, 2012 at 07:18 PM
It disgusts me of all this pomposity. Referring to kids, who are solely eligible to have reduced or free lunches, as a sub-group. Presumption and Education do not mix...Only the ignorant presume. Unfortunately for our kids it appears to be evident within the BOE.
JE September 27, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Your gripe should be with Hartford and Washington then. The local school systems and boards of ed do not compile the reports of these standardized tests, nor do they come up with the terminology. The # of children in these various 'subgroups' is what determines much of the funding local school systems receive from the state and federal governments. I do not believe any assumptions were made by those presenting the report or those listening to the report. I think, quite simply, it was a presentation of the facts.
Concerned Parent September 27, 2012 at 07:55 PM
@JE...You sorely mistaken a "gripe" with a "criticism"...Gripes generally refer to an issue with an individual vs. an overall criticism of casting presumptions on how children are categorized. Just as you believe there were no assumptions, I believe their were...simple as that.
Ryan Sartor (Editor) September 27, 2012 at 08:38 PM
When asked about possible reasons for the plateauing in test scores, Assistant Superintendent has the following to say: "We definitely are looking at curriculum. Part of it is that it's the fact we're in 8th grade. Keeping them engaged. That's one of the things we have to be aware of. We are looking at the curriculum."


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