State releases 2015 ISTEP scores; Pass rates down across the state

In 2015, 67.3% of students passed the English Language Arts portion of the test. 61% passed mathematics and 53.5% passed both sections.
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We're getting our first look at the statewide ISTEP+ scores for 2015. As expected, they are down significantly across the board and across the state. The Indiana Department of Education stresses the new scores cannot be compared to previous scores because the testing has changed. However, over all there was a 20-percent drop in students passing the state-mandated exams.

In 2015, 67.3% of students passed the English Language Arts portion of the test. 61% passed mathematics and 53.5% passed both sections.

At Arlington Elementary School in Franklin Township, only two out of three children passed their ISTEP+ exams. That is far fewer than the 83.5% in 2014.

Educators aren't surprised. They're disappointed and worried what parents and others will think. 

Principal Melissa Morris prepared for the letdown. 

"My fear is that they will feel were are not doing as well, when I feel like we are performing at the highest level we have and continue to grow," she explained.

Click here to check individual school district results. 

The school's drop in test scores is similar to other schools across the state. Last year, students took a new more difficult ISTEP+ exam, written to Indiana's more rigorous education standards.

Many claim comparing the results from two different tests is unfair. 

However, under state law ISTEP+ results must be used to evaluate teachers and schools.

RELATED: Failure rates expected to jump on latest ISTEP scores

School grades are important to every school in the state. Arlington Elementary earned an "A" every year for the last five years. The new ISTEP+ results put a big question mark on what happens next. 

Test scores are also used to grade teachers, and determine their raises. That concerns Franklin Township School Superintendent Dr. Flora Reichanadter.

"For us to be able to use those, then and measure teacher accountability I think would be dangerous  precedent to set for teachers, our schools, administrators, parents and students as well," she explained.

Click here to check individual school district results.

Lawmakers of both parties appear to agree. They are considering legislation that ensures teachers and schools won't be punished for the new ISTEP+ results.

Sally Sloan, president of the  American Federation of Teachers Indiana, testified at one of Wednesday's hearings.

"We appreciate the efforts of making this so that it's fair to teachers and fair to schools," she told lawmakers.

Schools that insist graduation rates, other assessment tests, and education measures prove that despite lower ISTEP+ scores, students are learning more.

Despite lower ISTEP scores Franklin Township Schools says it is moving closer to becoming one of the state's top ten districts.

Last year, its scores ranked 54th in the state. This year they jumped to 34th.

Click here to check individual school district results.

RELATED: Questions arise over fairness of ISTEP+ tests

Indiana state school superintendent Glenda Ritz said in a statement: "The one-size-fits-all high stakes approach of the ISTEP+ needs to end." She said she wants to work with the General Assembly to create a more individualized assessment program.

Here's a breakdown of the results:

Statewide
Corporation

Public
Non-public
Science and social studies