Businesses for years have said that Connecticut has to improve the overall academic performance of all students if the state is to remain economically competitive.

This year, results of the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) for Grades 3-8 showed some welcome progress in narrowing the achievement gap that affects minority children and those from low-income families.

The CMT assesses approximately 250,000 students on their application of skills and knowledge in the core academic content areas of mathematics, reading and writing in Grades 3 through 8, and in science in grades 5 and 8.

CMT scores in reading, writing and mathematics this year were higher than last year’s at certain grade levels and slightly lower in others, said the State Department of Education (SDE). The largest gains were in Grades 6, 7 and 8.

Education Commissioner Mark McQuillan said he was “pleased to see improvements in the performance of students across the board, including somewhat larger gains by minority and economically disadvantaged students, which helps to close Connecticut’s large achievement gaps.”

While white students continue to “substantially outperform their black and Hispanic peers at all grade levels and across the four content areas,” said the SDE, there is “a steady trend ... [that suggests] … black and Hispanic students are posting annual gains that are greater than those of their white counterparts.”

Connecticut’s achievement gap remains the largest in the nation, but efforts are being made to close it. Gov. Rell appointed the Connecticut Commission on Educational Achievement in March to develop strategies to close the achievement gap. CBIA’s John Rathgeber serves on the Commission, which will present its findings and recommendations to the Governor in October.