Warrick County experienced a drop in ISTEP+ scores this year, much like the rest of the state.
In fact, the Warrick County School Corporation saw a 16.5 percent drop in scores from last year, going from 83.8 percent in 2014 to 67.3 percent in 2015. Overall, the state saw a drop of 21.2 percent in scores, falling from 74.7 percent in 2014 to 53.5 percent in 2015. Usually expected back during the summer, results for the ISTEP+ have been released only now, while testing for the 2016 ISTEP+ begins in late February.
Remediation for students who performed poorly on ISTEP+ may cause issues, since there is little preparation between the release of results and testing for 2016.
“There has been so much going on with ISTEP that we really are using the data lightly,” said Jane Wilhelmus, Director of Primary Curriculum and Instruction. “We are focusing more on the Indiana standards, and we’re also looking at other assessments that we use to help us determine remediation.”
The WCSC has established programs like STAR reading and math, and Acuity and Amplify to help assess if students are meeting state standards. These programs are based on the same standards used to create ISTEP testing and are taken throughout the year.
“We are certainly looking at the data from ISTEP, but this test is one measurement,” said Wilhelmus. “We also have other measures that we take into account to determine the remediation. Remediation is ongoing because we monitor data from students throughout the year, so we don’t look at one test and say, ‘everyone needs remediation.’ We try to look at each standard and try to individualize educational processes to help that student master the standards.”
Glenda Ritz, Indiana Superintendent, seems to agree with a move from generalized testing to a more individualized approach. In a press release from Jan. 6 she stated, “the one-size-fits-all high stakes approach of the ISTEP+ needs to end. Instead, Indiana should move towards a streamlined, individualized, student-centered assessment that provides students, families and educators with quick feedback about how a student is performing and how they have grown during a school year.”
Despite the drop in scores, Wilhelmus doesn’t believe there will be an increase in the need for remediation, thanks to the programs already put in place for assessment. One thing taken away from the ISTEP scores is that math is a primary area of focus after seeing a significant drop in scores. Overall math scores fell to 73.7 percent, while English/Language Arts fell to 79.4 percent. Math scores had a 16.1 percent drop for Warrick County from last year as opposed to the 8.7 percent drop for English/Language Arts.
The anxiety level for the upcoming ISTEP+ test is high due to the increased level of standards and the last minute issues from the previous year, but WCSC has encouraged students, teachers and parents to visit an ISTEP+ demo site to familiarize themselves with the type of questions that will be see on the test at doe.in.gov/assessment/experience-online.
“We want to be accountable,” said Wilhelmus. “We want to make sure our students succeed, but we also want to be measured in a fair and accurate manner. It’s still a flawed test in the back of people’s minds. We are hoping this next test is better. We’re anxious though because we have a new test with more rigorous requirements and a new vendor.”