Individual school and school corporation results are in from the state’s spring 2018 ISTEP+ standardized tests.
Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. scores are flat over 2017. Flat Rock-Hawcreek’s scores of students passing both English and math increased by about 3 percentage points for the second straight year. Among private schools, St. Bartholomew Catholic was the only one of four in Bartholomew County to increase the percentage of students passing both English and math on ISTEP. St. Bartholomew also had the highest scores of any county school.
In the county’s largest school corporation, 52.8 percent of BCSC students in grades 3-8 passed both math and English. A year ago, the school corporation’s passage rate stood at 52.7 percent. BCSC saw the percentage rate of students who passed both subject areas drop in seven out of the district’s 13 elementary and middle schools, while six schools saw increases compared to a year ago. Clifty Creek, Rockcreek, Schmitt and Taylorsville elementary schools all saw improvements in students passing math, English and both subject areas year-over-year.
BCSC Superintendent Jim Roberts said the ISTEP scores are just one piece of data the district looks at throughout the course of the year to understand whether or not students are making growth and getting better at demonstrating proficiency in academic standards. “It’s very important, but one piece of many,” Roberts said.
Roberts said it has been challenging for school districts to quickly respond to results, since the ISTEP test has been administered in the spring with results reported during the next school year. “When you’re looking at results that are now six months old, it’s difficult to take that and make specific improvements for individual children,” Roberts said. “We take it as one measure of how well we’re doing to get kids up to par with standards, but we don’t necessarily use the data from an individual child standpoint.”
Changes in assessments and standards have also made it difficult to compare data from one specific year to another, Roberts said. The state will replace ISTEP next spring with iLearn, a computer-adaptive test that will assess students skills in grades 3-8. Roberts said he is looking forward to the new exam since it will be administered in one session instead of two at the end of the school year. It will also allow school districts to receive their results quicker, he said. Roberts had served on a 23-member panel of educators that made several recommendations for the exam. “It’s necessary to make these changes to get a more reliable assessment that will help us understand information better and make changes in instructional practices,” Roberts said.
Flatrock-Hawcreek School Corp. saw improvements year-over-year with 57.3 percent of its students passing both English and math, an increase of 3.3 percentage points from 54 percent in 2017. The corporation had 51.4 percent pass both areas in 2016. While pleased with the improvement, Superintendent Shawn Price also remarked that the ISTEP exam has presented difficulties for school districts to compare data from one year to the next due to changes that have been made to the test. “We definitely have seen a need for change in standardized testing in Indiana,” Price said. Price said he is hopeful that the new iLearn exam will be meaningful in being able to influence instruction overall.
Private schools in Columbus saw mixed results, with two experiencing significant drops from a year ago. White Creek Lutheran School had 51.1 percent of its students pass both English and math, compared to 61.7 percent a year ago. Columbus Christian School had 50.5 percent of its students pass both subject areas, a decrease from 61.5 percent in 2017. Administrator Kendall Wildey said Columbus Christian was still analyzing its data and has not yet assessed what caused scores to drop. St. Peter’s Lutheran School remained flat at about 62 percent, while St. Bartholomew Catholic saw 81.1 percent of students pass English and math and English, an increase from the 79.4 percent level a year earlier.
Statewide, 50.7 percent of students statewide passed both subject areas, a drop from 51.5 percent a year earlier, the Department of Education reported. The state agency said performance remained stable across content areas in grades 3-8 with slight increases in grade 8 English and grade 3 math.
“ISTEP+ is one of the many tools Indiana uses to measure student achievement and this year’s results indicate we are moving in the right direction,” said Jennifer McCormick, Indiana superintendent of public instruction. “Indiana’s classrooms are full of dedicated educators who spend each day preparing our children for academic success, and I am grateful for their hard work.”
However, Teresa Meredith, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association, was critical of the ISTEP scores and the process, saying the data is old and limited in its usefulness in the classroom. “With only half of our students passing English and math, maybe we should be asking, ‘What is the real purpose of all these tests?’ Is it about judging the adults in the buildings?” Meredith said. “Mostly these results confirm what many studies and any teacher can tell you — a student’s household income determines their test score. This year, only 18 percent of low-income high school students passed both math and English portions.”
The ISTEP+ standardized exam measures student achievement in grades 3-8 and 10 in Indiana schools. English/language arts and math are covered in all grades; in addition, students in grades 4, 6 and 10 are also tested in science; students in grades 5 and 7 are also tested in social studies.
The iLearn exam, which will replace ISTEP+ next year, will assesses English/language arts and math for grades 3-8; science in grades 4 and 6; and social studies in grade 5. It will be a computer-adaptive test. Each time a student answers a question, his or her response helps determine the next question or set of questions that will be presented to the student.
Source: Indiana Department of Education