Masuk scores higher on SATs than state averages

The results are in and Monroe’s SAT scores reveal that on average Masuk’s students earned higher scores in math and English Language Arts than students across the state.

Monroe had 84.3% of students who took the 2016-17 SAT meet or exceed expectations in English Language Arts, while the state only had 65.4% of students. In math, Monroe had 61.4% of their students meet or exceed expectations in math and the state had 41.3% accomplish the same feat.


Interim Superintendent John Battista said he was “pretty pleased” with how Masuk ranked in the state.

“We’re 24 out of 124 in math and 31 out of 139 in English Language Arts, we’re at the top part of our state,” he said. “We’re not happy with where we are in our [District Reference Group] but we know that if we continue to teach the way we’re teaching and making the curriculum changes then we’re going to see all the growth in this and all our other assessments.”

Masuk High School principal Joe Kobza said he was happy with Masuk’s overall score and noted that with the use of the College Board’s Suite of Assessments, it helps the district measure growth of a cohort, or in this case the growth of a class, which they couldn’t do before the suite. He also said that because the PSATs and the SATs were redesigned three years ago to be more closely aligned to each other, he’s able to see how each class is testing as they progress throughout their high school career and how each graduating class is testing compared to those that came before it.  

“If we’re just looking at big-picture helicopter views, everything is trending nicely. I’d love to see our comparisons [be] higher but what I’m seeing within each cohort is growth within the cohort and from year to year,” Kobza said. “To me that’s the important thing, seeing that growth over time within the cohort and growth over time within the school. Big picture, that is promising.”

DRG status

While Masuk scored comparatively well against the state numbers, Monroe did not fair as well against the other schools in their District Reference Group (DRG) B. The Courier obtained the scores for 19 of the 21 schools in Monroe’s DRG (the scores for Orange and Woodbury were not available). In English Language Arts, Monroe was ranked 15 out of 19 schools and in math, it came in 15th place out of the 19 schools for the percentage of students that met or exceeded expectations.

Monroe is in a DRG with Avon, Brookfield, Cheshire, Fairfield, Farmington, Glastonbury, Granby, Greenwich, Guilford, Madison, New Fairfield, Newtown, Simsbury, South Windsor, Trumbull, West Hartford, District No. 5 and District No. 15.

“When I look at our comparison to the DRG, sure I definitely want to see us performing more strongly in our DRG. But when I start to look at where the DRG averages are — we’re about one question away from the DRG average,” Kobza said.

Battista said he would like to see Monroe closer to the top of the DRG list.

Participation rate

According to the 2016-17 data, Masuk had 293 students out of 302 take the SATs. While Monroe does not require students to take the test, Battista said that he attributes the high participation rate to the culture at Masuk.

“There’s a culture in Monroe where kids feel they want to go on beyond high school, which is why so many kids take it,” he said.

Battista also noted that the SAT is used as the state test at the high school level.

Kobza agreed that students take the SAT because they want to pursue secondary education.

“This is a test that really matters, colleges look at the SAT so they come and this is an opportunity to take it for free,” Kobza said.

Battista said that the district encourages all of their students, not just their high achieving scholars to take the test if they are interested in it.

Local growth

Masuk students scored slightly higher on the 2016-17 SATs in English Language Arts than they did on the 2015-16 test, where 81.5% met or exceeded expectations. This year students scores on the math portion of the test saw a minute drop from 61.7% to 61.4%.

The suite of assessments reveals trends and shows where students “are falling short.” Kobza said that by looking at the subscores results, the district can see what areas students were having difficulties with. For example one of the areas where the students testing scores dipped dealt with the order of operations in algebraic problems.

“It does make it interesting when you start to dig into the data and look at the question analysis,” Kobza said. It allows the district to see where there might be a curricular weakness or what areas students might need a refresher lesson in.

However, Masuk students earned a higher average score for both math and English Language Arts in 2016-17 with a 570 in English Language Arts and a 563 in math than it did in 2015-16, with students scoring a 562 in English Language Arts and a 552 in math.

“We’re looking at all of it, we want our kids to compete with our neighbors and we want our kids to do well and be at the top of the DRG,” Battista said.

He also said that next week there will be administrative meetings where the district will look at all of the data and zero in on what can be done to improve and better the curriculum areas where students didn’t test as well.

The snapshot

While the district is certainly looking at the test results to see what areas could be beefed up in the curriculum, Battista and Kobza both said they don’t put too much emphasis on the SATs.

“We’re not focusing on teaching to a test, we’re focused on our curriculum and we know that will increase our scores,” Battista said.  

Kobza said Mike Crowley, the high school’s instructional leader in English, led a group of teacher volunteers from every department that looked at reading strategies for teaching within a content area in science, history, math and English last year to better interdisciplinary reading comprehension. He credited Crowley’s work with the higher English Language Arts scores.

“I think the English Language Arts scores bumped up because of the work we’ve been doing with reading the nonfiction texts,” Battista said.

“This is a snapshot in time, like all other snapshots and we look at it as what we’re teaching in our curriculum we want to continue to do the stuff that works and that wasn’t always the case,” Battista said. “We just want to make sure we’re continuing to give the kids what they need to do well.”

About author
TinaMarie Craven is the Arts & Leisure editor. She previously worked as the editor of the Monroe Courier and the Lewisboro Ledger. She graduated from Ithaca College with a BA in Journalism and Politics in 2015.

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