September 19, 2013

Local school administrators examine ISTEP results

Logan superintendent skeptical glitches mattered little.

By Amie Sites Pharos-Tribune

---- — ISTEP+ scores from last spring were released to the public Wednesday, more than one month into the school year.

School leaders are now examining the results and refocusing on the school year. Although an expert hired by the Department of Education determined in July the state’s scores improved this year, leaders are still considering the ramifications of computer glitches that forced about 80,000 Indiana students, including many in Cass County, to restart the test multiple times.

Michele Starkey, Logansport Community School Corp. superintendent, has been reviewing scores by subject matter in each grade level.

As a whole, the corporation showed improvement, but Starkey said she was somewhat disappointed with the sixth grade scores.

Starkey said the same students who were in sixth grade at the time of the disruptions scored 20 percent higher when they were fifth graders and didn’t have disruptions.

“We’re still trying to look at what happened,” Starkey said. “We’re trying to figure out the impact the disruptions had on students.”

In the corporation, 74.6 percent of students passed English/language arts test and 77.9 percent passed the math test.

Although the report said students performed better, Starkey said she found it hard to believe the disruptions didn’t have any impact. School leaders will now look at the curriculum, make improvements and move forward, Starkey said.

Students at Caston Jr.-Sr. High School were also affected by the glitches. Three students in seventh grade received undetermined scores because of testing irregularities, said Adam Strasser, the school’s principal.

“In a class of 73 students, that is a big deal,” Strasser said.

He added that administrators are happy with the students’ performance overall. “Our staff thought they were doing the best they could given the circumstances,” he said, “and we’re happy they gave the effort.”

At the Fulton-based district, 78.5 percent of students passed English/language arts and 76.1 percent of students passed the math section.

Beth Dean, principal at Pioneer Elementary School, said scores there dropped slightly but were within two percentage points.

“The goal is to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Dean said. “Teachers work hard with the kids and we want them to be prepared as they move grade to grade. We will do our best when test time comes around again.”

As a whole, the percentages were good and students did a fine job with testing, said David Bess, superintendent of Pioneer Regional School Corp.

The corporation saw 83.4 percent of students pass English/language arts and 87.9 percent pass math.

Barrett Bates, principal at Galveston Elementary School, said though school administrators were happy with the results, it was definitely an interesting year with the glitches and delay in results.

The corporation had 78.6 percent of students pass English/language arts and 81.7 percent pass math.

“You can obviously always make improvements, but we’re happy with how they (students) did,” Bates said. “Now the schools will look at scores, see where they’re at, where they need to be and make adjustments.”

Whether anyone’s a fan of the test or not, it’s one students have to take and now is the time to be proactive and help prepare students, Bates said.

Local ISTEP+ pass rates School corp. ELA Math Logansport 74.6 percent 77.9 Pioneer 83.4 87.9 Southeastern 78.6 81.7 Caston 78.5 76.1 Source: Indiana Dept. of Education