Milford students are fast learners, according to study

MILFORD – A recent national study suggests Milford schools are doing a good job helping students achieve.

A Dec. 5 story in the New York Times reported on Stanford University research that uses new measurement tools to evaluate children’s learning.

The data is based on about 300 million elementary school test scores in more than 11,000 districts.

Instead of comparing how well students do compared to children in other districts, the study tried to evaluate school effectiveness by measuring students’ changing scores over a five-year period to see how fast they are learning.

School districts from all over the country are ranked in charts, including 20 in southern New Hampshire. Exeter Region Cooperative School District has the highest score, placing in the 97th percentile, with a growth of six years within five years.

At the Jan. 16 Milford School Board meeting, Superintendent of Schools Robert Marquis distributed the study results that show Milford in fourth place, with a growth of 5.4 years in five years, putting it in the 82nd national percentile. Amherst is in the 72 percentile, with 5.2 years.

The study’s authors acknowledge that kids from poorer districts tend to test less well than those from more affluent districts.

But, said Stanford researcher Sean Reardon in the story, “it’s possible to separate some of the advantages of socio-economics from what’s actually happening in schools,”

With a median household income of $80,000, Milford is one of the least affluent districts among the 20 in the southern New Hampshire chart. Amherst is the richest, with a median income of $146,000.

Marquis said the findings show the district’s teachers and administrators have high expectations for students, and it pays off.

“We don’t create an artificial ceiling for our kids based on the income of their parents,” he said. “It’s a pat on the back for the professionalism of the staff.”

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.