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10/8/2018 12:44:00 PM
Can one test really measure a student, especially one taken seven months earlier?

Sally Mahan, Kokomo Tribune

Kokomo educators, like their counterparts in other districts, believe there needs to be better ways to measure student achievement than ISTEP+.

“Kokomo Schools officials fundamentally, and philosophically, disagree with the State’s approach in determining student achievement based on a single test that is a one-time snapshot,” Dave Barnes, Kokomo Schools’ director of communications, said in a statement.

“We believe this state testing data would be more beneficial to school officials and teachers if the data were provided to school officials much earlier. Even though Kokomo School Corporation officials do not support this single method (ISTEP+) to determine academic performance, Kokomo Schools does use the data from these ISTEP+ results to revise curriculum and inform instruction.” 

Eastern School Corporation Superintendent Keith Richie, said, “[Test scores] are very complicated. We try to look at how we did the year before and see where we have growth. But we don’t get hung up on ISTEP; it’s just one measurement.”

Dr. Tenicia Helmberger, Kokomo Schools’ director of assessment, advises parents to contact their student’s teacher to truly understand their student’s academic performance.

“Kokomo School Corporation teachers are professional educators who monitor each student’s growth throughout the school year,” Helmberger said in a statement. “The formative and summative assessment data collected by classroom teachers is a more accurate reflection of the academic achievement of our students. Our understanding is that Indiana’s new standardized exam (ILEARN) for the 2018-2019 school year for grades 3 through 8 will provide school officials and teachers with data on state assessments much earlier, and the data will be explained in much greater depth.

“ISTEP+ is a one-time snapshot, but the data teachers collect on a daily basis is much more meaningful for determining student performance, mastery, and growth. I am confident our teachers are providing quality instruction for Kokomo’s children.”

Officials at Eastern Howard School Corporation echoed Kokomo’s confidence in its teachers.

“We are very proud that our buildings are full of dedicated teachers. I’m very proud of them,” said Richie.

The Indiana superintendent of public instruction said the test scores are only one piece of the puzzle. 

“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,” said Jennifer McCormick, in a statement. “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.”

The president of the Indiana State Teachers Association issued a less glowing statement.

“Again, after another delay we are now learning the results of the ISTEP test taken seven months ago. Some of our schools have been in session for nearly 10 weeks. This data is already old and limited in its usefulness in the classroom,” Teresa Meredith’s statement said.

“With only half of our students passing English and math, maybe we should be asking, ‘What is the real purpose of all these tests?’ Is it about judging the adults in the buildings? Mostly these results confirm what many studies and any teacher can tell you – a student’s household income determines their test score. This year, only 18 percent of low-income high school students passed both math and English portions. If parents truly want to know how their students are doing in school, I encourage them to talk to their teachers.” 

Related Stories:
• State ISTEP scores dip for elementary and high school students compared to 2017
• ISTEP + New year = Same results

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