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Indiana ISTEP Results Released, But Officials Warn Not To Compare Them

Posted On January 06, 2016

By Mike Perleberg

istep-graphic-12032015

(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – Long-awaited results for the 2014-2015 ISTEP+ test were revealed Wednesday, but state and local education leaders want the public to know a few things about them before passing judgment.

By all accounts, last school year’s test was more rigorous than previous years thanks to new college- and career-ready Indiana Academic Standards. Testing times were extended for many of the 400,000 3rd through 8th graders statewide taking the test last spring. The test came in four different forms of varying difficulty. There have been debates over the placement of the pass-fail line and concerns with glitches in the online test.

“After years of legislative changes at both the state and federal level, our schools were asked once again to implement new standards and subject students to a new assessment without time to transition.  The 2015 ISTEP+ results have established a new baseline for Indiana’s progress towards college and career ready benchmarks, and I want to thank our students, educators and administrators for their hard work during such a challenging school year.  I look forward to seeing student growth towards these new, more rigorous benchmarks moving forward,” Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said in a statement.

As Ritz and others had warned, statewide passing rates fell significantly. In 2015, 67.3 percent of students passed the English/language arts section, 61 percent passed the mathematics portion. Only 53.5 percent passed both sections. Additionally, 69.2 percent of 4th and 6th grade students passed the science portion and 70.4 percent of 5th and 7th grade students passed the optional social studies section.

The ISTEP+ is typically used to measure progress made by students, however, the different standards on the 2015 test make it difficult to compare to the years before.

Republican and Democrat state lawmakers are expected to fast-track legislation that would hold harmless schools in their A-F accountability grades and teachers for their performance pay tied to students’ test results.

Ritz called for lawmakers to move away from the costly, lengthy, pass/fail ISTEP+ assessment.

“The one-size-fits-all high stakes approach of the ISTEP+ needs to end.  Instead, Indiana should move towards a streamlined, individualized, student-centered assessment that provides students, families and educators with quick feedback about how a student is performing and how they have grown during a school year,” she said.

The state superintendent also plans to recommend that the State Board of Education move to ensure that school’s A-F grades are determined by meaningful measures, not just test scores.

 

The Local Results

Local school districts saw a wide range of passing rates on the 2015 test, but even comparing school-to-school performance on the test is difficult to do fairly.

South Ripley Community Schools experienced 66 percent of students pass both subjects, the highest in the area. Rising Sun-Ohio County Schools’ rate for passing in both subjects was far behind at 36 percent.

In a November letter to parents in his school district, South Ripley superintendent Rob Moorhead cautioned that there were four forms of the test this year: two forms online and two forms of a paper and pencil test. The state awarded bonus points on some forms of the test in an effort to even out the scores.

“As educators we frequently compare our schools’ passing rates with those of other schools in the area to see how our students performed.  This is usually done in the media as well.  However, I caution you this year to make sure you are doing an ‘apples to apples’ comparison,” Moorhead said.

“I don’t know whether we will have the highest passing rates, the lowest passing rates, or somewhere in between.  But what I do know, is that it is not fair to make comparisons between schools unless those schools took the same form of the test,” Moorhead added in his November letter.

The superintendent at Rising Sun-Ohio County Schools, Branden Roeder, says the 36 percent pass rate for his district “does not accurately assess the mastery level of the students” there.

“We are very proud of our students and exceptional staff. It is truly unfortunate for the students of Indiana to stress over an invalid assessment. Educators are supposed to be able to use data from this standardized test to alter pedagogy starting at the beginning of the school year, and we are just receiving this information approximately one month before the next ISTEP cycle begins. In my humble opinion, legislators and the Department of Education need to adopt a formative assessment that provides instant feedback to allow teachers to differentiate instruction. The ISTEP assessment is not working, and we are already experiencing difficulties with the upcoming ISTEP assessment,” Roeder said Wednesday.

Batesville Community Schools is historically among the best performing public school districts in our five-county region of southeast Indiana and in all likelihood still is. Like most other schools in the state, though, passing rates fell dramatically due to new standards – 75.1 percent in English/language arts, 73.9 percent in math, and 64.5 percent in both portions of the test.

Superintendent Dr. Jim Roberts said he was proud of the district’s educators for doing a tremendous job in the midst of the chaos.

Roberts explained that the 2015 ISTEP+ problems are continuing to cause headaches. Individual student results usually come toward the start of the following school year, but schools are just now able to view details of students’ tests.

“Again, this is an unfortunate situation as our students are expected to be prepared to take another round of ISTEP+ in less than two months,” Roberts said.

Milan Community Schools super Paul Ketcham called the looming 2016 test the elephant in the room.

Ketcham said the 2015 test results – 70.9 percent in English/language arts, 62.2 percent in math, and 53.8 percent in both – paint a different picture from successful gains Milan schools have posted over the past decade.

“We will not let the results of the flawed 2015 ISTEP change our belief in our students, staff, parents and communities,” Ketcham said.

Sunman-Dearborn Community Schools’ pass rates were 73.1 percent in ELA, 67 percent in Math, and 59.2 percent in both subjects. Superintendent Dr. Andrew Jackson agreed with his aforementioned counterparts that much weight cannot be put on the results.

“I would like to reiterate that I believe these scores not to be a true reflection of our students’ academic ability or the quality of instruction in our classrooms.  With that said, we will continue to move forward to better prepare our students for college and careers, as the new standards require,” Jackson said.

At Lawrenceburg Community Schools, the corporation pass rate was 69.8 percent in English/language arts, 62.1 percent in math, and 55.3 percent in both subjects. Lawrenceburg superintendent Karl Galey pointed to a letter he and other superintendents from Dearborn and Ohio counties wrote last month in which they were critical of the state’s handling of ISTEP+.

Galey thanked legislators for making the ISTEP+ and hold-harmless legislation among their top priorities of the newly-started legislative session. He also tipped his hat to staff who continued to work hard in the classroom in light of the testing issues.

Jac-Cen-Del Schools superintendent Tim Taylor praised staff and students for their efforts through the testing turmoil.

“We will continue to be driven by our top priority of providing our students with  challenging and innovative instruction that results in their success not only in school, but in all aspects of life.  Additionally, I applaud the sense of urgency displayed by our legislators in making this a top priority of this session,” Taylor said.

 

Private Schools Pass Rates Down Less

Not all local educators are completely dismissing the 2015 ISTEP+ scores.

At St. Lawrence School in Lawrenceburg, principal Michael Odar credited students and teachers for their efforts in helping the school earn among the best pass rates in southeast Indiana. The Catholic school earned an 88 percent in English/language arts, a 75 percent pass rate in math, and a 70.4 in both subjects combined.

“While we are excited to show that our students are achieving above the state average, we know that one test does not define a student or a teacher’s full capability. However, these results can be used as a valuable assessment of and for our students’ learning.  We will use the test’s information along with other data points to help guide our students to achieve at even greater heights,” Odar said.

 

Corporation and school-wide ISTEP+ results are in the tables below. To find class-level data at each school, visit http://www.doe.in.gov/news/indiana-superintendent-public-instruction-glenda-ritz-calls-assessment-reform-releases-2015.

 

BATESVILLE COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

School Name ELA
Pass 
ELA
Percent Pass
Math
Pass
Math
Percent Pass
Both Pass
Corporation 693 75.1% 684 73.9% 64.5%
Batesville Middle School 337 72.6% 339 72.9% 62.5%
Batesville Intermediate School 356 77.6% 345 75.0% 66.6%

 

FRANKLIN COUNTY COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

School Name ELA
Pass 
ELA
Percent Pass
Math
Pass 
Math
Percent Pass
Both Pass
Corporation 773 65.3% 638 53.7% 47.9%
Laurel School 189 63.4% 135 45.2% 40.6%
Brookville Middle Sch 255 64.9% 204 51.5% 45.4%
Brookville Elementary School 135 70.3% 117 60.9% 57.3%
Mount Carmel School 194 64.7% 182 60.5% 52.5%

 

JAC-CEN-DEL COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

School Name ELA
Pass 
ELA
Percent Pass
Math
Pass 
Math
Percent Pass
Both Pass
Corporation 271 68.8% 270 68.4% 57.0%
Jac-Cen-Del MS/HS 73 52.9% 64 46.4% 35.8%
Jac-Cen-Del Elementary 198 77.3% 206 80.2% 68.4%

 

LAWRENCEBURG COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

School Name ELA
Pass 
ELA
Percent Pass
Math
Pass 
Math
Percent Pass
Both Pass
Corporation 612 69.8% 545 62.1% 55.3%
Greendale Middle School 271 63.2% 237 55.2% 48.6%
Central Elementary School 341 76.1% 308 68.8% 61.7%

 

MILAN COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

School Name ELA
Pass 
ELA
Percent Pass
Math
Pass 
Math
Percent Pass
Both Pass
Corporation 356 70.9% 313 62.2% 53.8%
Milan Middle School 194 68.1% 164 57.3% 49.8%
Milan Elementary School 162 74.7% 149 68.7% 59.0%

 

RISING SUN-OHIO COUNTY SCHOOLS

School Name ELA
Pass 
ELA
Percent Pass
Math
Pass 
Math
Percent Pass
Both Pass
Corporation 246 62.9% 158  40.2% 36.0%
Ohio County Elementary School 246 62.9% 158 40.2% 36.0%

 

SUNMAN-DEARBORN COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

School Name ELA
Pass 
ELA
Percent Pass
Math
Pass 
Math
Percent Pass
Both Pass

 

Corporation 1290 73.1% 1186 67.0% 59.2%
North Dearborn Elementary School 174 79.5% 142 64.8% 59.4%
Sunman-Dearborn Middle School 425 69.4% 388 63.2% 55.4%
Sunman Dearborn Intermediate Sch 433 73.5% 429 72.5% 62.6%
Bright Elementary School 133 78.2% 115 67.6% 64.1%
Sunman Elementary School 125 71.4% 112 63.6% 56.0%

 

SOUTH DEARBORN COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

School Name ELA
Pass 
ELA
Percent Pass
Math
Pass
Math
Percent Pass
Both Pass
Corporation 773 67.8% 664 58.0% 50.6%
Dillsboro Elementary School 110 72.4% 102 66.7% 57.9%
Manchester Elementary School 125 71.8% 129 74.1% 63.8%
Moores Hill Elementary School 56 62.2% 57 63.3% 54.4%
South Dearborn Middle School 273 66.7% 179 43.6% 40.2%
Aurora Elementary School 209 66.3% 197 62.1% 52.1%

 

SOUTH RIPLEY COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

School Name ELA
Pass
ELA
Percent Pass
Math
Pass
Math
Percent Pass
Both Pass
Corporation 436 80.6% 385 70.8% 66.0%
South Ripley Junior High School 152 80.9% 137 72.9% 67.0%
South Ripley Elementary School 284 80.5% 248 69.7% 65.4%

 

SWITZERLAND COUNTY SCHOOLS

School Name ELA
Pass
ELA
Percent Pass
Math
Pass
Math
Percent Pass
Both Pass
Corporation 360 57.2% 324 51.3% 40.1%
Jefferson-Craig Elementary School 107 63.7% 95 56.5% 48.2%
Switzerland Co Middle School 109 51.7% 105 49.5% 33.6%
Switzerland Co Elementary School 144 57.6% 124 49.4% 40.2%

 

PRIVATE SCHOOLS

School Name ELA
Pass 
ELA
Percent Pass
Math
Pass 
Math
Percent Pass
Both Pass
Saint Nicholas School 56 71.8% 44 58.7% 48.6%
Saint Paul Catholic School 13 46.4% 15 53.6% 35.7%
Saint Mary School 64 70.3% 54 58.7% 51.6%
Saint Lawrence School 134 88.2% 114 75.0% 70.4%
Saint Michael School 119 81.5% 113 77.4% 69.2%
Saint Louis School 209 82.3% 191 74.9% 69.7%

 

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