INDIANAPOLIS — Student performance on the Spring 2018 ISTEP standardized exam dipped slightly for both elementary and high school test takers compared to the prior academic year.
Statewide, the percentage of students in grades 3 through 8 who passed both the English/language arts and mathematics exams fell to 50.7 percent, versus 51.4 percent in Spring 2017.
The results show elementary student scores dropped across the board, including a 1.1 percent decline in English/language arts for a 64.1 percent pass rate, a 0.2 percent drop in math for a 58.3 percent pass rate, a 5.3 percent drop in 4th and 6th grade science for a combined pass rate of 57.9 percent, and a 4.9 percent drop in 5th and 7th grade social studies for a 58.6 percent pass rate.
Among high school sophomores, just 33.7 percent passed both the English/language arts and math exams, down 0.6 percent from the Spring 2017 result.
Grade 10 student scores fell statewide 1.6 percent in English/language arts for a 58.9 percent pass rate, declined 0.6 percent in math for a 36.2 percent pass rate and dropped 5 percent in science for a 52.1 percent pass rate.
Jennifer McCormick, the Republican state superintendent of public instruction, in a statement characterized those results as "stable," while she also highlighted slight improvements in 8th grade English/language arts scores and 3rd grade math results.
"ISTEP is one of the many tools Indiana uses to measure student achievement and this year's results indicate we are moving in the right direction," McCormick said.
"Indiana's classrooms are full of dedicated educators who spend each day preparing our children for academic success, and I am grateful for their hard work."
Many Region schools top state averages
Numerous Northwest Indiana school districts outperformed the statewide averages on both English/language arts and math.
In Lake County, elementary students at Crown Point Community School Corp. tallied the highest pass rate for English/language arts at 87.6 percent.
Though Crown Point's second-highest 79.1 percent math pass rate for Lake County was bested by Cedar Lake's Hanover Community School Corp. at 81.2 percent. Hanover also saw 8 in 10 elementary students pass the English/language arts exam.
Teresa Eineman, superintendent at Crown Point schools, said the district's results are about much more than those numbers, they're about children "believing their dreams to be real."
"As dream-makers, our professional educators, staff and leaders use data lenses to clearly see the needs of each child, prescribe high impact strategies, assess progress learning and repeat until graduation day," Eineman said.
East Porter County School Corp. notched the Region's highest elementary English/language arts pass rate at 88.7 percent, along with a math pass rate of 76 percent.
The top Region elementary math pass rate of 85.6 percent was achieved by students in Union Township School Corp., also in Porter County. Its English/language arts pass rate was 86.7 percent.
Other Northwest Indiana school districts with top pass rates on the elementary exams included: Valparaiso (86.9 percent English/81.7 percent math); Munster (83.2 percent English/75.8 percent math); Duneland (82.8 percent English/74 percent math); Lake Central (82.4 percent English/74.8 percent math); Tri-Creek (79.6 percent English/67 percent math); Diocese of Gary (79.4 percent English/67.3 percent math); Hobart (78.2 percent English/69.1 percent math); Griffith (76.6 percent English/69.6 percent math); and New Prairie (76.4 percent English/75.6 percent math).
Valparaiso Community Schools Superintendent Julie Lauck said: "We are very pleased with the work of our students and our staff on the Spring ISTEP. We are proud of what has been achieved and the hard work reflected in the scores."
For 10th grade English/language arts, Munster topped all comers with an 87.5 percent pass rate, followed by Valparaiso at 78 percent, Diocese of Gary 77.6 percent, Hobart 76 percent, Crown Point 74.5 percent, South Central 73.5 percent and East Porter 71.4 percent.
Munster also took the 10th grade math crown with a 60.1 percent pass rate. Only Valparaiso (54.7 percent) and Duneland (50.3 percent) also saw more students pass the exam than fail it.
Some of the lowest ISTEP elementary scores in Northwest Indiana were recorded in the School City of East Chicago, which had a 25 percent pass rate for English/language arts and 24.1 percent pass rate for math.
Gary Community Schools (31.7 percent English/17.4 percent math), Tri-Township (45 English/28.6 math) and many of the charter schools in East Chicago and Gary also produced lackluster ISTEP results for grades 3 through 8.
Among high school students, fewer than 4 in 10 passed the English/language arts exam and fewer than 2 in 10 passed the math test in the following districts: East Chicago, Gary, Hammond, Lake Ridge New Tech, Lake Station, Michigan City and several Region charter schools.
Peggy Hinckley, emergency manager for Gary schools, said she sees the test scores as a baseline for the district, which last year was taken over by the state due to financial issues, from which to grow as it implements building changes and innovative learning strategies aimed at improving the city's schools.
"We have invested over $2 million in new technology and continue to invest in programs to meet the needs of our students," Hinckley said. "We know our teachers are working diligently to provide quality instruction for all children."
"While our challenges are great, our determination to improve student results is greater."
This was the last time that Indiana elementary school students are being evaluated using ISTEP.
A new ILEARN exam is scheduled to debut in Spring 2019 in the hope of permanently moving away from the technical glitches and scoring delays associated with ISTEP.
High school sophomores will continue taking ISTEP through spring 2020, after which it is set to be replaced by a national college entrance exam, such as the ACT or SAT, taken by juniors to fulfill a graduation requirement beginning in the 2021-22 school year.