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Greenwich’s Western Middle School ranks third in CT

March 23, 2019 GMT

GREENWICH — Western Middle School ranks third out of all middle schools in the state, according to data released by the state.

And its students are growing academically at rates that place Western in the top 2 percent to 7 percent of all Connecticut middle schools.

The Connecticut State Department of Education measures schools on 12 metrics, from physical fitness to growth in math and English Language Arts to access to arts education. That generates a composite score that it uses to rank schools and identify ones that need extra attention.

Western ranked behind a grade 7 through grade 8 school in Orange and a magnet school in New Britain. Last year, it ranked sixth statewide.

The state education department previously measured academic success through raw scores on standardized tests. In the past few years, the state began tracking the scores of individual students on the Smarter Balanced Assessment, which is administered to students in grades 3 through 8, year-over-year to measure a new statistic: growth.


Growth is the “gold standard” of testing, because it better measures whether schools are helping kids learn. In September, the newer metric revealed some bright spots among Greenwich schools with the largest populations of students who typically score lower on tests — those using special education services, learning English or qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch.

Western Principal Gordon Beinstein advocates focusing on growth scores rather than absolute scores based on one-time test performance.

Absolute scores depend on the skills children possess when they enter his middle school, he said in a newsletter to Western families. Growth scores represent the work that goes on in schools and at home.

Western ranked fifth out of all middle schools in the state for high levels of English Language Arts academic growth and 19th out of all middle schools in the state highest for high levels of academic growth in math.

Of the three middle schools in Greenwich, Western has the highest population of high-needs students, those who qualify for free- or reduced-price lunch, require special-education services or are learning English. Growth among this population of students is also highly ranked among middle schools in the state.

Western is the seventh-highest ranked school for high levels of English Language Arts academic growth for high needs students, and the 15th-highest ranked school for high levels of math academic growth for high needs students.