Department of Education releases long-awaited ISTEP scores


ISTEP results are finally out. The numbers used to grade teachers, schools and, to a great extent, entire communities, are available for everyone to see.

Despite computer disruptions, testing delays and distractions, students scored higher on their ISTEP exams this year.

79.5 percent passed their English/Language Arts test, a slight improvement from 2012. 82.7 percent passed the math exam, an increase of 1.5 percent.

Students passing both inched up as well eight-tenths of a percent - 73.5 percent.

"First, I want to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of Indiana students, parents, educators, administrators and the employees of the Department of Education for their efforts during the administration of this test," said Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz. "Despite considerable difficulties, our students improved their overall performance yet again, and deserve our congratulations."

The question now is if administrators will trust the results and whether or not they can use them to evaluate and improve schools, teachers and students.

Beech Grove School Superintendent Paul Kaiser is among those critical of ISTEP and leery of the accuracy of the results, referring to the numbers as "lagging data."

An independent study commissioned by the state concluded that widespread computer problems had little if any effect on student test scores. However, the controversy and investigation delayed results by months.

Testing was interrupted on consecutive days in April by software glitches. The state says the numbers released Wednesday are preliminary and will be finalized after students and their parents can have the opportunity to request re-scores of the Applied Skills portion of the test.

Information used to evaluate students and tailor lessons to their needs is arriving more than a month after school started.

"We've already set our academic goals, using our own data and our own testing," said Paul Kaiser, Beech Grove Schools.

ISTEP results are among the state-mandated factors used to evaluate teachers and award raises.

Testing problems concerns teachers and their bosses.

"When it comes to their base salary that is going to carry forward from year to year, I am not going to use that data," said Kaiser.

After all the problems, many educators want to put last spring's ISTEP test and its results behind them and move on.

By the numbers:

Statewide, 76.2% of 8th graders passed the English/Language Arts (ELA) portion and 81.2% passed Math compared to 74.2% for ELA and 80.1% for Math in 2012.  For 7th graders, 74.2% passed ELA and 80.2% passed Math, compared to 76.3% for ELA and 79.0% for Math in 2012. 

77.7% of 6th grade students passed their ELA and 84.0% passed Math, compared to 78.7% for ELA and 83.0% for Math in 2012.  79.2% of 5th grade students passed their ELA and 87.0% passed Math, compared to 78.4% for ELA and 86.2% for Math in 2012. 

84.3% of 4th grade students passed their ELA and 83.5% passed Math, compared to 82.4% for ELA and 79.1% for Math in 2012.  Finally, 85.2% of 3th grade students passed their ELA and 80.1% passed Math, compared to 86.2% for ELA and 79.6% for Math in 2012. 

School and corporation-level results