Elkhart, Goshen schools post improved ISTEP scores; mixed results elsewhere in county
Posted: 09/18/2013 at 2:38 pm
By: Lydia Sheaks
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Sixth-grade Megan Roeder fills in a questionnaire listing what she wants in the ideal teacher on the first day of classes in August at Goshen Middle School. (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen)
Here are the 2013 results from Elkhart County school corporations, compared with how the students did in 2012.
Elkhart increased the percentage of students passing in both math and English/language arts from 2012 to 2013. In 2013, 74.7 percent of students passed in math compared with 71.4 percent in 2012. In English/language arts, 69.6 percent passed in 2013, compared with 67.4 in 2012.
Shawn Hannon, senior director of communication for Elkhart Community Schools, said Wednesday that Elkhart administrators are excited to see that the corporation’s percentage increase is higher than the state percentage increase.
She added that the corporation plans to work on third grade language arts.
“We want to make sure we continue to cover the entire language arts program as well as we can,” Hannon said. “We wonder if we are focusing too much on IREAD for third grade students rather than the whole ISTEP test.”
Hannon also said that three Elkhart elementary schools — Mary Feeser, Pinewood and Riverview — have a more than 90 percent passing rate in several areas. The 90 percent is something that schools have focused on in recent years, she said.
“It used to be 70 percent was something we looked at as a challenge and a threshold,” Hannon said. “Now we are looking at ‘Who is over 90 percent?’ At a certain point 70 (percent passing) became too low as a goal.”
“From 2009 to this year, we are really seeing nice healthy growth in all grades in language arts and math,” Hannon added.
Goshen increased the percentage of students passing in both math and English/language arts from 2012 to 2013. In 2013, 71 percent of students passed in math, compared with 68 percent in 2012. In English/language arts, 67.1 percent of students passed in 2013 compared with 63.9 percent in 2012.
Representatives from Goshen, Wa-Nee, Middlebury, Concord, and Baugo school corporations were not immediately available for comment on the ISTEP results Wednesday.
Fairfield improved in the percentage of students passing math, but the percentage of students passing the English/language arts portion of the test decreased slightly in 2013, compared to 2012 results. In 2013, 91.4 percent of students passed math, compared to 89.1 percent of students in 2012. In 2013, 83.5 percent of students passed English/language arts compared to 83.9 percent in 2012. Overall, 80.8 percent of Fairfield students passed in both English/language arts and math this year, compared to 79.9 percent in 2012.
Steve Thalheimer, superintendent of Fairfield Community Schools, said Wednesday that the corporation plans to dig deeper into the fifth grade language arts results.
“As we look at the overall results, we are a little puzzled about what’s happening there,” Thalheimer said.
In 2012, 85.2 percent of fifth grade students passed the English/language arts portion of the test, while in 2013 just 80.9 percent passed.
Thalheimer said that he wonders if technical difficulties students experienced when taking the test online may have contributed to the lower score. He added that another possibility is that students had difficulty with one or two of the questions. Though Thalheimer specifically mentioned fifth grade scores, he added that the corporation will also take a second look at the language arts results for other grade levels.
Thalheimer said that about half a dozen parents request a re-scoring of the applied skills portion of the test each year.
Baugo increased the percentage of students passing in both English/language arts and math from 2012. According to 2013 results, 83 percent of Baugo students passed in math, while 73 percent passed in language arts. In 2012, 79.2 percent passed in math, while 71.7 passed in English/language arts.
Concord increased the percentage of students passing in math, but the percentage of students passing English/language arts decreased. The corporation increased the total percentage of students passing (including language art and math scores) by 0.3 percentage points from 2012. In 2013, 80.3 percent of Concord students passed math, compared with 78.7 percent in 2012. In 2013, 74.9 percent of students passed English/language arts, compared with 75.7 percent in 2012.
Concord Community Schools representative Bryan Waltz said that the corporation is pleased to see a fifth straight year of improvement for students who passed both language arts and math at all grade levels.
“This is an increase of 12.5 percent since the 2008-2009 school year,” Waltz said in an email Wednesday.
He continued, “In third-grade program growth (comparing the same grade two years in a row — which means not the same students), we saw an increase in the percentage passing for third grade of about 6 percent in each subject area — and when considering students who passed both tests. We are also pleased with fifth grade, where the math program growth was 4.1 percent and students passing both was 5.3 percent.”
Waltz also said that the most noticeable growth for Concord was between last year’s third grade students who are now in fourth grade. Those students passed at a better rate — 3.9 percent more in language arts and 5.2 percent more in math — than in 2013.
“Although we reported (that) about 59 percent of our students’ tests were interrupted in some form, the state invalidated only 20 students’ scores due to the interruptions in computerized testing,” Waltz said.
Middlebury increased the percentage of students passing in both math and English/language arts from 2012 to 2013. In 2013, 88.8 percent of students passed in math, compared with 87.3 percent in 2012. In 2013, 80.5 percent of students passed in English/language arts, compared with 79.1 percent in 2012.
Wa-Nee increased the percentage of students passing in both math and English/language arts from 2012 to 2013. In 2013, 89.4 percent of students passed in math, compared with 88.3 percent in 2012. In English/language arts, 87.3 students passed in 2013, compared with 86.9 percent in 2012.