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Updated January 6, 2016; 12:00 p.m.

 
Across Indiana, there has been a downward shift
in ISTEP+ (a standardized English/Language Arts and Math assessment
administered to 3rd-8th grade students) test scores,
resulting in a decrease in school accountability grades.  Flaws in
the adoption and implementation of new state standards led to a
series of anomalies that ultimately affected the grades of schools across
Indiana. The IPS 2015 ISTEP+ performance drop mirrors that of surrounding
districts and other high poverty areas. As predicted in the preliminary scores,
statewide performance took a dive of over 20+ percentage points. This
blemished outcome has not been uncommon among other states that have re-normed
performance standards.

 

“Though we’ve weathered a changing testing
environment, we don’t believe the scores for 2014-15 reflect the hard work of
our staff and students and the important gains in academic growth.  Rather
than wait to rely solely on the results of an annual event, we use benchmark
assessments to assess student progress in real time and guide teachers in
assessing their lesson plans.  The benchmark results allow us to plan and
adjust month-to-month, week-to-week, and day-to-day instruction. Qualitative
walk-throughs are also regularly conducted to directly assess the quality and
pacing of classroom instruction,” said Deputy Superintendent for Academics Dr.
Wanda H. Legrand. 

 

Legislative leaders were presented with a
proposed bill from Senator Dennis Kruse that will safeguard schools and
teachers from penalties because of the anticipated substantial drop
in the 2015 ISTEP scores. Under this bill, schools may not receive a lower
grade for 2015 than what they received the previous year. The plans are being
introduced to the Senate and House today in hopes to prevent any impact on
teachers’ evaluations and pay. Though we strongly feel that closely
monitoring, measuring and responding to student growth is a much better
educational aim, we commend our lawmakers for collaborating to hold teachers
harmless after having worked diligently within a cumbersome testing season. As
we currently function within an A-F environment, it is our hope that accommodations
for school corporations will be commensurate with those provided for schools.

 

A summary analysis of the 2015 ISTEP data reflects the overall grade-level
performances of IPS were equal to or better than the State average in
English/Language Arts and Math. Passing rates sank on nearly every measure
after the test was retooled to match tougher standards the state adopted in
2014- Chalkbeat

 

As many of us grapple with confounding ISTEP
results, the in-house assessment practices of IPS support teaching and
learning, to read more click here

 

“We can seek brevity in
testing and still generate enough data to inform planning and instruction,”
says Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee. “ISTEP difficulties won’t change
my view of our progress & opportunities. Classroom assessments inform
instruction.”