by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune
---- — The Indiana Department of Education released the individual scores of an annual standardized test taken by third- through eighth-graders to students and parents Monday, but are waiting to make comprehensive results public until schools have an opportunity to appeal any results.
The ISTEP+ is administered every year to Indiana students in grades three through eight in the subjects of English/language arts, mathematics, science and social studies.
Despite computer glitches that forced about 80,000 Indiana students, many in Cass County, to have to restart the test multiple times, an expert hired by the Department of Education determined in July that that the state’s scores actually improved this year.
Dr. David Bess, superintendent of Pioneer School Corp. in Cass County, said he has been reviewing how the students stacked up in the corporation’s elementary and junior high schools.
“They usually release them to the corporations first to take a look and see if there are any serious errors that need to be corrected before they become public information,” he said.
When students don’t do well on the test, principals and teachers come in contact with the student to develop a remediation plan to help them improve in the areas they show deficiencies in.
“The real work begins for those who weren’t successful,” he said. “...There’s going to be a lot of effort between now and next April to make sure they have more than a year’s growth.”
Schools in the Logansport Community School Corporation implement a similar remediation plan.
Rita McLochlin, principal of Landis Elementary School, said after-school tutoring programs, extra time added to students’ daily 90-minute reading blocks and increased focus on subjects students are struggling with are provided for those whose scores dictate a need for improvement.
Those supplements and “a lot of hard work” from Landis’ staff go toward helping to improve students’ scores for future years, she said.
Bess said while he’ll need more time to examine the Pioneer School Corporation’s scores, the fact that the state’s overall scores improved may not be enough to determine no negative effects resulted from the computer glitches last spring.
“That’s just one comparison factor,” he said. “I was over watching some of the youngsters and some, if you ask them to start and stop, given human nature as it is, I can’t believe they were as enthusiastic the first time as they were the fourth.”
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.