By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
THE GOSHEN NEWS
The ISTEP+ results arrived late, but they were pretty good for local school districts.
The statewide ISTEP+ scores were released Wednesday, a couple months past the usual release date, and show continued improvement by local students on the standardized tests that measure proficiency in math and English.
Goshen Community Schools Superintendent Diane Woodworth said school officials were not happy with the delay.
“We were frustrated, yes, just like all the other educators around the state,” Woodworth said.
She said the delay didn’t totally affect the school corporation’s process in identifying and proceeding in the remediation of students and their needs.
“We were still able to place students in interventions, as we have other assessment tools in addition to ISTEP,” Woodworth said.
The number of Goshen Community Schools students who passed both the English and math portions of the test was 59.4 percent. The English percent was 67.1 and math was 71 percent. In 2012, 63.9 percent of Goshen students passed the English portion and 68 percent passed the math portion.
“We showed some improvements in some areas, but we still have plenty of room to grow,” Woodworth said.
Other local school officials expressed their thoughts on the results and the delay.
Superintendent Jane Allen of Middlebury Community Schools said school officials were more concerned in Middlebury about the results of the issues with test disruptions and student scores more than they were with the delay.
“We rarely use ISTEP to identify needs, except for our new students in the upper grade levels,” Allen said. “ We prefer to use our own assessments to direct remediation and instruction.”
The superintendent said school officials are pleased with most of the efforts in individual schools and grade levels.
“We work very hard to get our students what they need when they need it and feel that our scores have reflected our hard work. We are above the state average in most of our grade levels and in the 90s a few as well,” Allen said. “We are very proud of all of the work our students, staff, and parents do all of the time to build success.”
The delay in receiving the results was frustrating because Fairfield Community Schools school officials sent home information to parents about obtaining results, but then weren’t sure when the results would be released, said Superintendent Steve Thalheimer.
The constant delays, the whole conflict about A-F scores changed by the former Indiana State Superintendent Tony Bennett and the questions about how good the ISTEP scores will be after the technical glitches during testing, all raise uncertainties for parents and students, and it puts teachers whose performance is evaluated by these measures on edge, according to Thalheimer.
“It just gives public education another black eye when there are forces out there already to beat up on us,” Thalheimer said.
The superintendent said the results on ISTEP+ fell within the range of what is typical for the Fairfield corporation. Performance on math ISTEP+ was quite good with some grade levels only having one or two students not passing. He said areas Fairfield educators need to look at include language arts at a couple grade levels because those scores are a little lower than typical.
“Also, fifth-grade social studies, while better than the state, is not where we like to see those results either. We also want to see why we had so many more Pass+ students at some grade levels as well,” Thalheimer said. “One really bright spot for us was to see our seventh-grade math scores carry over from the success we have been having at sixth-grade. Some of our sixth-grade results have been 96 to 100 percent passing over the past few years, and this year seventh-grade passing went to 92 percent.”
We are pleased to see a fifth straight year of improvement for students who passed both language arts and math at all grade levels — an increase of 12.5 percent since the 2008-2009 school year, said Bryan Waltz, Director of Elementary Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment.
In third-grade program growth (comparing the same grade two years in a row — which means not the same students), Concord had an increase in the percentage passing for third grade of about 6 percent in each subject area — and when considering students who passed both tests.
“We are also pleased with fifth-grade where the math program growth was 4.1 percent and students passing both was 5.3 percent,” Waltz said. “The most noticeable cohort growth was between last year’s third grade and this year’s fourth grade, where we saw an increase of 5.4 percent passing both subjects. 3.9 percent more students passed in language arts and 5.2 percent more students passed in math.”