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The Journal Gazette

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Wednesday, September 06, 2017 10:24 am

State ISTEP+ scores steady

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS - Standardized testing scores released today remained steady around the state.

Almost 52 percent of students in grades 3-8 passed both the Math and English Language Arts portions of the 2016-2017 ISTEP+ test, which is virtually identical to last year.

The numbers are even lower for passing grade 10 end-of-course assessments in English 10 and Algebra 1. Only 34 percent passed both - up from 32 percent last year.

State Board member Tony Walker was concerned that only 37 percent of Grade 10 students passed the math exam.

"Is that reflective of the rigor of our standards or is there a problem with how we are testing it?" he asked. "For all practical purposes, two-thirds of those students are going to struggle in college."

Board member David Freitas  pointed out there are different cohorts of students taking the test with different potential abilities and achievement levels.

"It's dangerous to look at one year to the next," he said. "It could be the test, could be the cohort, could be instruction."

Other results include 63 percent of kids in fourth and sixth grades passing a science test and 63.5 percent of students in fifth and seventh grades passing social studies. Both were down slightly.

The test scores are the largest component in state and federal accountability and largely make up a school's A to F grade, which will come out later this year.

It is the third straight year with no major changes to the academic standards or the test.

There is only one more year of ISTEP+ before the state will transition to a new test called ILEARN. Lawmakers want the assessment to be shorter, given in one window and have results returned quickly. A request for proposals is out seeking a vendor to develop and implement the new test.

ILEARN will come on line in the 2018-2019 school year. It will include computer adaptive testing to better inform educators about students' strengths and weaknesses.