Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

October 4, 2013

Some students excel, while others struggle with ISTEP+

Debbie Blank The Herald-Tribune
The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — When the Indiana Department of Education released ISTEP+ numbers Sept. 18, Batesville Community School Corp. superintendent Dr. Jim Roberts was jubilant. He reported, “Our corporation scored very well compared to all other school corporations in Indiana. For the third consecutive year, our overall pass rate (students in grades 3-8 who passed both English and math portions) was in the top 10 with a ranking of No. 6. Our pass rate for mathematics was No. 3 and for English/language arts No. 10.”

The BCSC 2013 pass rate stands at 89.3 percent, up 0.2 percent from 2012. The achievement trend was even across the two schools: Batesville Intermediate and Batesville Middle each tallied 89.3.

Overall, fourth-graders were the top test-takers with 91.9 percent passing both sections. Fifth-graders had the lowest passing rate at 84.2 percent.

At 98.8 percent, “our grade 6 mathematics pass rate was especially strong as they tied for No. 1 in Indiana!” Roberts announced. In that subject, 95.6 percent of all Batesville Community School Corp. students passed. Faring the worst were third-graders at 91.8 percent.

In English, 91.4 percent passed. By grade level, third-graders were at the top of the heap at 96.8 percent and fifth-graders at the bottom at 84.4 percent.

Roberts said, “I was very excited when we received this year’s ISTEP+ scores. Based upon the issues that nearly all schools faced with online testing, I was nervous about the potential impact to our results. Additionally, our recent success has set a high bar for us to get over with each standardized testing experience.”

He attributed Batesville’s continual rise in ISTEP+ scores to all the persons involved in the learning process. “We are fortunate to have a combination of great students, supportive parents and outstanding educators. As a community, we accept the concept of “Believe in Better” and continually strive to find opportunities for improvement.”

Sunman-Dearborn Community School Corp. superintendent Dr. Jeff Hendrix said, “I believe that our teachers have worked very hard to help our students reach higher levels of achievement over the past five years since the assessment was moved from the fall to the spring. Historically, in the spring of 2009 our test scores for the corporation were 79.3 percent in language arts, 78.8 percent in math and 71.4 percent in passing both. In 2013, we scored as a corporation 83.6 percent in language arts, 89.3 percent in math and 79.9 percent in passing both parts. That is considerable growth.

“The key for our district is not only to keep growing our student scores, but also to be able to sustain that growth as we move closer to the top. This past year, as the numbers show, we have regressed in some grades, but also jumped forward in others. I see this pattern as part of the overall growth process in our district.”

Looking at grade level scores, in English third-graders did best with 92.9 percent passing. Eighth-graders fared the worst with 77.6 percent. In math, fifth-graders excelled at 93.2 percent compared to a low of 82.3 percent by seventh-graders.

At 87 percent, fourth-graders had the best passing rate for both sections. Seventh-graders had the most trouble passing both at 72.2 percent.

Analyzing composite scores (passing both sections) for each school, the rule at SDCSC was the younger the students, the better they performed: North Dearborn Elementary, 89.3; Sunman Elementary, 87.5; Bright Elementary, 82.6; Sunman-Dearborn Intermediate, 79.5; Sunman-Dearborn Middle, 74. Hendrix reported, “I have talked with several superintendents in the state about their schools’ test scores. Many of them have shared with me their concerns about their students’ scores trending downward, especially at the seventh- and eighth-grade levels.”

He added, “I think many of our teachers and administrators believe that those scores do not indicate our students’ best efforts. We are pleased with the growth in some of our schools and grade levels. We are also disappointed that our students did not grow or perform better in other grade levels.”

According to the superintendent, “We are continuing to assess our overall academic program. We are delving deeper into the data to find the gaps in learning that may be a result of curriculum issues or instructional issues. We will make the corrections needed, especially at those grade levels that showed regression. I have great confidence in my administrators and teachers that they will work even harder to find more ways to help our students learn and grow at even higher levels.”

Overall, the best-performing school in Ripley and Franklin counties is Batesville’s private St. Louis School. Even though test scores dipped slightly, 90.4 percent passed both sections vs. 91.1 percent a year ago. According to principal Chad Moeller, “I was very pleased with our performance. My expectations were for our students to excel and I was not disappointed.”

Grade-level scores ranged from 97.7 percent for sixth-graders to 78.4 percent for seventh-graders.

In addition, 95.8 percent of all SLS students passed the math section. Grades 3 and 6 impressed with perfect 100 percent scores, while at the other end of the spectrum, 89.2 percent of seventh-graders passed that portion.

Ninety-two percent passed the English/language arts section with sixth-graders at 97.7 percent and fifth-graders at 81.6 percent for the high and low scores.

The principal pointed out that seven of the 12 scores were 97 percent or higher. “Congratulations to the students, parents and staff of St. Louis School!”

When asked how SLS fared compared to other Hoosier private schools, he responded, “I have not looked at how other schools performed. That may be contrary to other administrators, but we prefer to focus on how to use the data to meet each individual student’s needs.”

Science content on the 2013 ISTEP+ was based on new science standards adopted in 2010. The release of science scores is anticipated in late October, said IDOE press secretary Daniel Altman.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.

Other area scores vary widely The IDOE Web site lists much more ISTEP+ data. It can be accessed at www.doe.in.gov/improvement/accountability/find-school-and-corporation-data-reports. These are the total percents of students passing both English and math sections at other area schools: State 73.5 Franklin County Franklin County Community School Corp. 69.7 St. Michael School 84.6 Ripley County Jac-Cen-Del Community School Corp. 75.3 Milan Community School Corp. 71.5 South Ripley Community School Corp. 85.2 St. Nicholas School 78.6