An exploration of how school district leaders are responding to the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT)

Date of Completion

January 2001


Education, Administration




This study was focused on how school district leaders in Connecticut are translating educational reform policies into instructional practice. It explored how school improvement initiatives were being implemented to improve student performance on the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT). Furthermore, it examined in what ways, if any, these initiatives were integrated with staff development support and were reinforced through teacher evaluation processes. Finally, it documented what similarities or differences existed among schools with respect to implementation and integration of school improvement initiatives, staff development support and the teacher evaluation process when grouped by Connecticut's Educational Reference Groups (ERGS). ^ Principals in all 139 comprehensive public high schools in Connecticut were sent a coded survey with both closed and open-ended questions. In-depth interviews were conducted with a sub-sample of 26 high schools that showed the highest levels of integration and lowest levels of integration with respect to school improvement initiatives, staff development, and teacher evaluation processes. For Likert scale items, frequencies were tallied and percentages calculated and reported. For all non-Likert scale items in the survey and the interview data, a qualitative methodology was used to analyze textual data to discover regularities or patterns that repeated across the data (Tesch, 1990). All data were analyzed for the purpose of identifying patterns in the ways that schools and districts responded to the CAPT. ^ Results indicated that on a statewide basis, the CAPT sparked curriculum revision, instigated K–12 curriculum articulation, and forced staff development in holistic scoring and in the use of rubrics. The study also found that while the CAPT is not yet a meaningful benchmark assessment for all Connecticut students, teachers or parents, there are signs that administrators as well as teachers are beginning to include CAPT objectives in their annual goal setting processes. Finally, while the CAPT is not a driving force for the higher performing districts in Connecticut, it does serve as an elusive benchmark for the State's most needy communities. ^