Common Ground Students Continue Academic Growth

New Haven, CT, August 13, 2013 – Students at Common Ground High School, the city’s environmental charter high school, have posted another year of significant gains on this year’s Connecticut Academic Performance Test:

  • The percent of students reaching “proficient” rose in every subject but reading, including a 17 point gain in math and an 18 point gain in science.
  • Students’ proficiency scores in writing (97.7%) and reading (81.4%) surpassed the state average for the third straight year, and math (76.7%) and science (79.1%) scores increased to within 2-3 points of the state average. In writing, student scored nearly 9 points above the state average.
  • The percentage of Common Ground students reaching “state goal” rose by double digits in every subject area: increasing by 18 points (to 27.9%) in math, by 15 points (to 39.5%) in science, by 14 points (to 39.5%) in reading, and by 25 points (to 61.4%) in writing.

This year’s results continue Common Ground students’ record of dramatic growth since 2007. Five years ago, the percentage of students scoring “proficient” or better doubled or nearly doubled in every subject area – for instance, from 32% to 77% in reading. Four years ago, Common Ground’s sustained gains made us the state’s only high school to exit No Child Left Behind “in need of improvement” status. In 2010, Common Ground students made larger gains at “goal” than their peers at every other Connecticut high school, according to analysis by ConnCAN. In 2011, Common Ground students built on these across-the-board gains, adding 5 points or more in every subject area at the “proficient” level.

In 2012, Common Ground students sustained progress in reading and writing, but lost ground in math and science – causing students, teachers, and school leaders to re-focus on these two subjects. Tutors joined Common Ground’s certified math teachers in every classroom. When students struggled with a math skills in class, they were assigned to after-school support that very same day. Teachers worked to integrate meaningful, real-world math challenges across the curriculum – from cooking in pre-algebra to calculating the volume of a compost pile in Calculus. A year later, Common Ground students reversed the decline in these two subjects.

“I love working at a small school, where curious students and dedicated teachers can recognize a challenge and face it head-on,” says Liz Cox, Common Ground School Director. “We honestly believe that every student can master challenging standards. In our classrooms, we challenge all students to prepare for college success and environmental leadership. We made progress this year, and we will keep pushing in the coming school year. We’ve already begun to scrutinize our students’ performance in reading, and have made some changes in our reading support program as a result. We have a school community – teachers and students alike – who are extraordinarily hard-working and never stop pushing.”

Common Ground serves a diverse student body – nearly 80% young people of color, approximately 70% from the City of New Haven, nearly 60% qualifying for free or reduced price lunch.

Test score gains are one of a number of indications of students’ progress at Common Ground. In each of the last two years, more than 96% of Common Ground graduates were accepted to college. Common Ground’s graduation rates have exceeded the state and city averages in each of the last two years, as well. This Spring, Common Ground’s mix of high academic standards and active, authentic environmental learning was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education with the Green Ribbon Schools Award.


Liz Cox or Joel Tolman
Common Ground High School
T: 203.389.4333 x1214, 203.809.4164,



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