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ISTEP+ scores continue upward

Year after online testing woes, area districts see rise

– Hoosier students’ standardized test results improved statewide as well as in numerous area districts, according to data made public today.

Overall, 74.7 percent of Indiana students passed both the English language arts and mathematics portions of ISTEP+ in grades 3 through 8. Last year, the pass rate was 73.7 percent. A similar increase has occurred since 2010.

Locally, Fort Wayne Community Schools, East Allen County Schools and Northwest Allen County Schools saw jumps, while Southwest Allen County Schools dipped.

The Indiana Department of Education today released the spring statewide and school-level ISTEP+ scores for the 2013-14 school year.

The increase in scores came a year after widespread testing interruptions in 2012-13 that some education officials believe might have depressed the pass rates.

Fort Wayne Community Schools gave the test this year on paper instead of online, though district spokeswoman Krista Stockman couldn’t say that was a factor in the district’s improvement from 66.8 percent of kids passing both English and math to 68.9 percent.

“We know that kids were not disadvantaged by computer interruptions,” she said.

Overall, FWCS was pleased with the scores but see the test as just one of several events used to measure student success.

“Of course we want students to do well, but what’s more important than just the overall numbers is looking at individual student data so that as we start school again, we are ready no matter where they’re at to further their academic achievement,” Stockman said.

East Allen County Schools had 72.2 percent of students in grades 3 through 8 pass both portions, compared with 66.7 percent last year.

Northwest Allen County Schools had 86.5 percent of students in grades 3 through 8 pass both portions, compared with 85.4 percent last year.

Southwest Allen County Schools saw a drop from 85.1 percent to 84.4 percent.

SACS Superintendent Phil Downs said his staff is analyzing the data, but he said the district had a second year of online testing problems with contractor CTB/McGraw-Hill. The district at one point suspended online testing.

“Everybody was frustrated. They were not very responsive and nice at first – until it became apparent it wasn’t us,” Downs said.

He said the district uses the test to gauge individual student growth rather than for year-to-year comparisons, noting that some kids leave and new kids arrive every year.

“A lot of data crunching goes on to get an idea of where to go next,” Downs said.

Huntington County Community School Corp. applauded its rise in scores, from 76 percent to 78.4 percent.

Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Charles Grable said he is pleased with the continued growth, especially with losing 14 school days this year before testing because of the harsh winter weather.

“The results again show how hard our teachers and students work each year to continually improve,” he said.

nkelly@jg.net

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