The Indiana Department of Education today released the 2017 ISTEP+ results. Performance remained stable across content areas in grades 3-8, while for Grade 10 performance rose slightly.
ISTEP+ assesses more rigorous Indiana Academic Standards adopted in 2014 for English Language Arts and Mathematics. Altogether, ISTEP+ assesses English Language Arts, Mathematics in grades 3-8 and 10, Science in grades 4, 6 and 10, and Social Studies in grades 5 and 7. Current proficiency levels were established based on feedback from educators following the 2015 and 2016 test administrations.
Student scores on Indiana’s high-stakes, end-of-year tests remained largely flat for the third straight year, raising questions about whether the state is making academic progress.
Local results are as follows:
East Washington Elementary School
- Third Grade – 74.3 percent passed ELA – 67 percent passed Math
- Fourth Grade – 71.7 percent passed ELA – 71.3 percent passed Math
- Fifth Grade – 63.5 percent passed ELA – 73.3 percent passed Math
East Washington Middle School
- Sixth Grade – 70 percent passed ELA – 58.6 percent passed Math
- Seventh Grade – 78.9 percent passed ELA – 49.5 percent passed Math
- Eighth Grade – 68 percent passed ELA – 54.5 percent passed Math
Eastern High School
- Tenth Grade – 54.7 percent passed ELA – 30.5 percent passed Math
School grades are being held until later in the fall, but East Washington Middle School scored a B last year, dropping from an A in 2015 and 2014.
East Washington Elementary raised their grade from a D in 2014 to an A in 2015 and 2016.
Eastern High School has had a B grade the past three years.
Bradie M. Shrum
- Third Grade: 58.1 percent passed English Language Arts (ELA) and 51.1 percent passed Math.
- Fourth Grade: 58.5 percent passed ELA – 52.1 percent passed Math.
- Fifth Grade: 41.6 percent passed ELA – 50.3 percent passed Math.
Salem Middle School
- Sixth Grade – 61.4 percent passed ELA – 67.7 percent passed Math
- Seventh Grade – 68.4 percent passed ELA – 43.9 percent passed Math
- Eighth Grade – 58.2 percent passed ELA – 37.7 percent passed Math
Salem High School
- Tenth Grade – 57.2 percent passed ELA – 36.2 percent passed Math
Salem’s grades for each building won’t be released until this fall, but last year Bradie M. Shrum and Salem Middle School both received a D. Salem High School received a B.
The middle school had received A grades in 2014 and 2015. Bradie Shrum had received C grades the past two years. Salem High School has had B grades going back the past three years.
West Washington Elementary School
- Third Grade – 90.7 percent passed ELA – 96.2 percent passed Math
- Fourth Grade – 78.6 percent passed ELA – 54 percent passed Math
- Fifth Grade – 67.7 percent passed EL A – 86.3 percent passed Math
- Sixth Grade – 78.9 percent passed ELA – 71.9 percent passed Math
West Washington Jr/Sr High School
- Seventh Grade – 51.8 percent passed ELA – 39.3 percent passed Math
- Eighth Grade – 56.6 percent passed ELA – 41.3 percent passed Math
- Tenth Grade – 57.6 percent passed ELA – 25.4 percent passed Math
West Washington High School received a C grade in 2016 and had received B grades for the previous three years. The elementary school received a B grade for the last three years and received an A in 2013.
SCHOOL GRADES FROM 2015-2009
The state has seen little improvement on ISTEP scores since the test was last overhauled in 2015 to align with new academic measures, after Indiana dropped the national Common Core standards.
Now, with three years of comparable data, the state has not seen the score bump that is generally expected after the initial drop that often comes with a new test.
Prior to the change, more than three-fourths of the state’s third- through eighth-graders were passing both English and math portions of the ISTEP test.
This year, for the third straight year, only about half did so.
“If you look at the scores, they’ve pretty much flatlined,” said Adam Baker, spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Education. “You can look at it one hand and say ‘Well, we haven’t improved.’
“You can look at it another way and say, ‘We haven’t decreased.'”
ISTEP exams also were given to 10th-grade students, for just the second year. Nearly two-thirds of those students failed at least one portion of the exam, with the amount of students passing both rising by just two points.
Looking at the 10th-grade data, State Board of Education member Tony Walker said he was concerned about what these results mean for students as they leave high school.
“Two-thirds are probably going to struggle in college,” he said as the board reviewed the results.
Another result that remains unchanged is the wide disparity in scores among districts, and groups of students.
Students from poor families continue to lag behind their more affluent peers at a rate of nearly 2-to-1. While just 35 percent of third- through eighth-grade students who qualify for subsidized meals passed both English and math portions of the test, about two-thirds of those who receive full-priced meals did so. In high school, the gap is wider — just 18 percent of lower-income 10th-grade students passed, compared top 45 percent of their wealthier peers.
The same wealth gap is often seen between schools and school districts.
Brownsburg Community Schools recorded the highest pass rate in the state, with 83.1 percent of their third- through eighth-grade students passing both English and math portions.
Other high-performing districts in Central Indiana were those in West Lafayette, Zionsville, Plainfield and several in Hamilton County, including Carmel Clay, Hamilton Southeastern and Noblesville schools. All were among the 20 highest-performing school districts in the state.
Other districts fell lower on state ranks. The pass rate in Washington Township was just over 40 percent. Districts in Beech Grove and Decatur, Lawrence, Wayne and Pike townships saw a little more than one-third of their students pass both math and English. Warren Township Schools’ rate for passing both was 28.7 percent.
Less than one-quarter of Indianapolis Public Schools students in third- through eighth-grade passed both the English and math portions, and fewer than 10 percent of IPS’ 10th-graders passed both. Superintendent Lewis Ferebee said the district knows it needs to do something different to improve academic achievement in its high schools.
“This reinforces our proposal to go big with dramatically shifting our high school experience,” Ferebee said. “Based on the results, clearly, we need to take that bold action.”
IPS is currently in the process of reinventing its high schools, with plans to shrink from seven to four high schools next year and turn each of them into college- and career-themed academies.
Schools across the state will have just one more year to look for any sort of improvement on ISTEP before moving to a new assessment.
The ILEARN test will replace ISTEP next year and will cover the same academic standards, but be given in a new, computer-adaptive format that many in the state hope will make it more useful for schools and a better measure of student performance.
The state is currently drafting a request for proposals for the new exam.