Standardized test scores for Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) are at or near pre-pandemic levels and have shown significant improvement in the last year.
ILEARN is the state’s annual assessment for Indiana students in grades 3 through 8 and high school biology. The test was not implemented in 2020 when the majority of schools in Indiana shifted from in-person to online learning due to the pandemic.
In the ILEARN report released July 13, the data shows that about 22.3% of the district’s third through eighth graders (at IPS in-LEA schools) tested this spring were proficient in English Language Arts (ELA), an increase from 18.5% in 2021. The rate was 22 % in 2019.
About 19.5% of IPS third through eighth graders were proficient in math in 2022, an increase from 13.7% in 2021. The rate was 21.2 % in 2019.
The percentage of IPS students passing both tests improved to 14.1% in 2022 from 10% in 2021. In 2019, the rate was 13.8%.
“Like every school in Indiana, we suffered a drop off when students shifted to learning online,” said Dr. Warren Morgan, IPS’s chief academic officer. “At that point, we began instituting a district support system, including unified high-quality curriculum and supplemental learning materials that focus on providing students with additional practice to ensure that learning and understanding are achieved.
“The state’s 2022 performance in ELA and math is roughly nine percentage points lower than 2019,” he said. “Thus, IPS’s return to school year 2019-level (scores) is notable and significant.”
Morgan also noted that IPS saw a significant one-year change in the ELA, math, and both passing scoring categories in comparing 2022 to the previous year:
- Percentage of IPS students passing both ELA and Math is a 4.1 percentage point increase, compared to a 1.6 percentage point increase at the state level.
- Percentage of IPS students passing ELA is a 3.7 percentage point increase, compared to a roughly 1 percentage point increase at the state level.
- Percentage of IPS students passing Math is a 5.8 percentage point increase, compared to a roughly 3 percentage point increase at the state level.
IPS also saw notable improvements in students receiving Special Education services and English Language Learners. Both groups of students showed improvement in both ELA and Math with the number of students receiving Special Education services exceeding pre-pandemic proficiency levels.
According to Morgan, IPS students are understanding the materials better thanks to the focused and intentional work of their teachers along with observational tools created to provide feedback to teachers, observation by IPS Executive Directors of Schools, and a coaching framework leveraged across schools (institutional teacher training).
“Teaching and learning teams also have been added throughout the district to support our staff,” said Morgan. “Overall, these efforts are putting us on a path of improvement.”
At IPS, while Black, Hispanic and white students all saw improvement in 2022 as compared to 2021, ILEARN data shows that white students achieved greater improvement than Black and Hispanic students. In ELA, white students’ 2022 performance was 7.5 percentage points greater than 2021, while Black and Hispanic students’ 2022 performance was 2.2 and 1.9 percentage points higher, respectively.
“We continue to be a district in relentless pursuit of ensuring students’ outcomes cannot be predicted by race,” IPS Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson said. “We aren’t there yet, but we are heartened by the academic improvement our students made.
“As I look at results across Marion County, Indianapolis Public Schools outpaced most others in terms of increases in student proficiency,” she said. “There’s clearly more work to do, and we remain committed to our goals and leveraging a multitude of strategies to support student learning.
The upward trajectory of improving test scores should continue in the fall when IPS offers free virtual tutoring to students at district-managed schools to help combat learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The district will officially launch “IPS Tutoring for All Powered by Tutored by Teachers (TbT)” on Sept. 12. The program allows students who attend a district-managed IPS school to meet with tutors virtually twice weekly for one hour in the afternoons free of charge. Interested IPS parents can register their children at myips.org/freetutoring by Aug. 5.