Westport's public schools posted high marks in the state Department of Education's newly released rankings in its new "School Performance Index."

State education officials, using this school assessment tool for the first time, set a target for each school of 88 SPI points on a 0-100 index scale as a measurement of achieving academic goals. Meeting this benchmark, as each of Westport's eight public schools did, indicates that a school's students reached the state's "goal" level on the majority of standardized tests that they took. The average of the eight local schools' SPI between 2009-12 is 93.3.

Bedford Middle School posted the district's highest three-year SPI average, 95.7; Kings Highway Elementary School recorded the lowest, 91.5.

All eight of Westport's public schools were assigned "maintain" targets for their SPI scores in the current 2012-13 academic year.

Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon did not return phone messages left for him asking for comment on the SPI scores.

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SCHOOL PERFORMANCE INDEX Westport public schools' three-year averages in new state Department of Education assessment system. The SPI has a 0-100 scale. Coleytown Elementary School 92.9 Green's Farms Elementary School 92 Kings Highway Elementary School 91.5 Long Lots Elementary School 92.4 Saugatuck Elementary School 93.8 Coleytown Middle School 94.7 Bedford Middle School 95.7 Staples High School 93.3

The SPI comprises a key component of the state's new school accountability system, which state education officials are touting as a more accurate and effective means of measure schools' performance. A school's SPI -- which represents an average of student performance in all tested grades and subjects -- allows for the evaluation of a school's performance across all tested grades, subjects and performance levels on the Connecticut Mastery Tests and Connecticut Academic Performance Tests.

Creation of the SPI was facilitated by the federal Department of Education's acceptance in May of an application by the state for more flexibility in meeting certain requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law. Approval of that request by federal school officials allowed the state to institute the new accountability system for assessing school performance.

The SPI replaces the "adequate yearly progress" benchmarks, which had been used to measure Connecticut schools' performance in relation to goals of No Child Left Behind.

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