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Thursday, October 04, 2018 1:00 am

ISTEP results similar to last year

Half of students pass math, English statewide

ASHLEY SLOBODA and NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

ISTEP+ results

To see a database of the ISTEP+ results, click here

Allen County public school students fared about as well on ISTEP+ this year as last, with most district-wide passing rates for both the English and math portions remaining relatively flat.

Statewide, about half of the students in grades 3 through 8 didn't pass the English and math portions of the standardized test.

And the passage rate for 10th graders was even worse.

The scores were reviewed and released by the State Board of Education on Wednesday. The scores were given little attention, with no discussion by the board. A press release from the board also didn't mention them.

“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, 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.”

The statewide scores showed 50.7 percent of students in grades 3 through 8 passed both the math and English tests. That is down slightly from 51.4 percent last year.

Southwest Allen County Schools and Northwest Allen County Schools bested the state average with passing rates of 64.7 percent and 64.1 percent, respectively. While Northwest Allen's score dropped from 66.7 percent, Southwest Allen's was up – slightly – from 64.6 percent.

East Allen County Schools' passing rate was relatively flat, falling to 50.5 percent from 50.7 percent. Fort Wayne Community Schools also saw minimal change, dropping to 38.4 percent from 39.5 percent.

Statewide passing rates for science and social studies also dropped, to 57.9 percent and 58.6 percent, respectively. Last year, they were both 63 percent.

The statewide grade 10 passing rate for both English and math was 33.7 percent – down from 34.3 percent.

Northwest Allen's sophomores logged the greatest gains; 53.4 percent passed both subjects in 2018, up from 45.1 percent. The other districts remained relatively flat at 52.3 percent (Southwest Allen), 30 percent (East Allen) and 22.3 percent (Fort Wayne Community).

McCormick's staff said that because the test covers more rigorous standards and has switched mostly to an online delivery mode, the fact the scores are relatively flat is important.

Also, grade 8 results in English improved as well as grade three results in math.

FWCS Superintendent Wendy Robinson said it's difficult to refute or defend scores eight months after students began taking the tests.

“What we have done over the past eight months is focused on the individual needs of students, and (we) implemented a new curriculum to better address the expectations for students today,” Robinson said in a statement.

“In the spring of 2019, students will take a new state standardized test, ILEARN. While we don't know what to expect from this new exam, we do know the state's academic standards,” Robinson said. “Our standards-based curriculum was written by our teachers to prepare students not just to take one exam, but to be problem-solvers and critical thinkers, so they can be successful no matter what challenge is placed before them.”

Chris Himsel, Northwest Allen superintendent, called the scores irrelevant. He, too, noted the tests happened months ago and said the results provide no information about why students passed or didn't pass.

“It is important to receive information designed to meet the individual learning needs of students because test results are not an indicator of school or teacher quality,” Himsel said in a statement. “How learning data – including results from both standardized and locally-created assessments – are used to improve learning opportunities for individual students, on the other hand, is an indicator of school and teacher quality.”

Statements from East Allen and Southwest Allen weren't available Wednesday.