Impressive population growth and solid testing scores were the highlights from the strategic school profile which was presented to the Board of Education members Tuesday night.

Superintendent of Schools Stephen Falcone said the district saw a 7.8 percent increase in the population between 1990 and 2000 as well as 9.5 percent increase in enrollment over a five-year period.

Although many of the neighboring districts have started leveling off in terms of enrollment, Falcone said Darien continues to see more students enrolling.

CAPT and CMT scores were also strong, with the only areas of concern being in eighth-grade reading and science scores.

However, in the area of physical education, more students were meeting the standards for the tests.

"Physical fitness had quite a spike in terms of students reaching the standards and part of that was recalibrating the test," Falcone said. "But even with that, I've seen teachers administer these tests and they hold kids to the fire on these."

In terms of expenditures, Darien spends slightly less per student than other schools in the district but pays more for special education.

Board member Susan Perticone asked why the middle school hours of instruction were less than other schools.

Falcone explained the difference in the hours, 982 instructional hours in Darien as opposed to the district average of 1,005, was due largely to the fact that Darien spends 150 minutes on language arts and world language combined. Most of the others schools spend about 89 minutes on a language arts program, Falcone said.

"Other districts may also have a second language arts program as opposed to a world language program," Falcone said.