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The Journal Gazette

County schools’ results mixed in state literacy test

Most Allen County school districts saw slight declines in students passing the state’s third-grade literacy test, with Fort Wayne Community Schools dipping more than 7 percent, according to results released Tuesday by the Indiana Department of Education.

Final district results will not be compiled until late this summer after students who did not pass the first round of testing are given the opportunity to retest.

Among Allen County school districts, East Allen County Schools showed an improvement, with the passing rate climbing more than 3 percentage points since last year to 82.5 percent.

“We’re really excited about the initial improvements we’ve seen. Our teachers, principals and students worked really diligently to focus on the district’s reading instruction,” EACS spokeswoman Tamyra Kelly said.

Allen County private school students fared well overall, with more than a dozen receiving perfect scores and most others scoring in the 80th or 90th percentiles.

Horizon Christian Academy’s Wells Street campus scored the lowest, with 44 percent of third-grade students passing.

The results also mean more students will be returning to retake the exam in the coming weeks.

The statewide pass rate this spring was 85.58 percent, up from 85.28 percent in the spring of 2013.

The testing window for this year’s IREAD-3 – Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination – exam was extended because of weather-related school cancellations and delays. The test was originally scheduled for March 17 to 19 but was extended through March 21.

Hard to pinpoint

Pass rates for the first round of testing varied among Allen County districts.

Northwest Allen County Schools scored highest at 91.9 percent; Southwest Allen County Schools at 89.7 percent; East Allen County Schools at 82.5 percent; and Fort Wayne Community Schools at 74.5 percent.

“We’re proud of the kids and the achievement they have made,” NACS Superintendent Chris Himsel said.

However, the results did not tell NACS teachers anything they weren’t already aware of and working on, he added.

“It didn’t give us any new information about the progress of our kids,” Himsel said.

FWCS spokeswoman Krista Stockman said it’s difficult to pinpoint what might have caused the district’s passing rate to drop by more than 7 percent.

“Systemwide, there’s not anything that we can point to. It’s not that we did something differently this year and it didn’t work,” Stockman said.

“This is just one of those years when we look at that data and know we have some more work to do.”

Stockman said the district will continue to focus on individual student scores.

The district’s schools were notified of students who didn’t pass several weeks ago, and intervention began immediately thereafter, she said.

“We have a plan in place to get those students what they need in order to make sure they pass it the second time,” Stockman said.

FWCS third-graders will retake the IREAD-3 test before the end of the school year.

SACS students who did not pass will follow a similar process, Superintendent Steve Yager said.

The district’s passing rate dropped by about 1.5 percent this year, according to state data.

“It’s an insignificant change in the data,” he said. “We’re quite pleased that our students have performed well overall.”

SACS students have begun receiving additional support and will retake the test before the end of the year, Yager said.

The summer testing window for Hoosier third-graders who failed the test the first time is June 2 to July 25, according to the Department of Education.

Schools are required to provide students retaking the test with additional reading assistance.

If students fail a second time, schools and districts will determine whether to hold the students back or allow them to enter the fourth grade but provide third-grade instruction.

Those students who fail twice will still be considered third-graders by the state the following year and will be required to take the ISTEP+ and IREAD-3 again.

Some students, including those with special needs, non-English speakers and those who have already been retained twice, may receive waivers, even if they fail the test.

jcrothers@jg.net

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