Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

September 21, 2013

Greensburg Community Schools students make strong showing on ISTEP

By Rob Cox Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — GREENSBURG — The scores are in.

On Wednesday, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) released the scores of this past spring’s ISTEP testing following a months-long delay caused by a computer glitch. The glitch caused students to be kicked offline while taking the online portion of the test back in April and May, resulting in the possible invalidation of some 1,400 tests statewide.

Greensburg Community Schools (GCS) Director of Curriculum and Instruction Tammy Williams told the Daily News that the computer outages had minimal impact on Greensburg students, with only two student test results being thrown out.

Those students, she stressed, won’t have to retake the ISTEP and neither will they in any way be negatively impacted by their scores being thrown out. Plus, those students will still receive their scores from the test’s “applied skills” portion, which is composed on essays and written math problems. Additionally, parents will still have online access to the portions of the invalidated tests the two students actually completed.

ISTEP scores were invalidated for one of two reasons, according to Williams: Wild fluctuations between last year’s ISTEP score and this year’s score for the same student, or data showing the computer froze for too long a period of time, keeping the student online too long.

Overall, based on the data released Wednesday, Williams is extremely pleased with GCS 2013 ISTEP scores.

For instance, 90.4 percent of Greensburg Elementary School (GES) students, grades 3 through 5, passed both the math and the language arts portions of the 2013 ISTEP test. “That’s 16.9 percent higher than the state average for those grade levels,” Williams said.

Greensburg Junior High School (GJHS) students earned a 78.1 percent combined score between language arts and math, which is almost 5 percentage points higher than the state average, Williams added (the test is administered to grades 3 through 8 only).

Moreover, GCS ISTEP takers scored higher than the state average in every grade for both language arts and math, with the district’s fifth graders attaining the highest scores of all at 96.3 percent. Additionally, the district’s lowest score in any subject – 82.2 percent in language arts – was still 6 percentage points than the state average for eighth grade language arts across the state.

When asked where the district needs the most improvement, Williams answered, “When your scores are this consistently good, we just want to continue to maintain those scores. We’ll continue analyzing our scores, of course, but there isn’t any particular subject or grade that requires dramatic improvement. Our teachers work tirelessly to work with every student to be successful and that fact is reflected in these scores.”

Data from each individual ISTEP section was broken down more succinctly in 2013 than in previously years, and Williams said those numbers would “drive professional conversations for the next several months. We’ll use that information to better understand our strengths and weaknesses and to adjust our instructional practices accordingly.”

Williams further characterized aspects of GCS’s 2013 ISTEP scores as “nothing short of phenomenal. We really praise the hard work of our staff, teachers and administrators.”

Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011