The Herald Bulletin

October 2, 2013

Editorial: Don't ease up on ISTEP


The Herald Bulletin

---- — Here’s a challenge to Anderson’s new interim school superintendent and future superintendents for that matter.

Don’t ease up on ISTEP.

The recently released results from spring 2013 aren’t dismal; they’re middling.

In Anderson, 73 percent passed the math portion of the test and 67.6 percent passed the English/language arts section. Overall, 60 percent of the students in grades 3 through 8 passed both.

As always, there is a major shift, usually downward, when students begin entering the fifth grade. For example, about 72 percent passed the math section but 57 percent of all sixth-graders who took the test passed the English/language arts section. But the latter score worked to bring the passing rate of both tests to 52.7 percent. Seventh-grade results were just as flat, with 52.8 percent of the students in that grade passing both exams.

Educators know that the factors for this shift are varied: classroom standards can change, fourth and sixth grades have a science component; fifth and seventh grades have a social studies element; students at that age aren’t always as serious as in previous grades, and, lingering in the background, there was a glitch in recording scores by the state-hired contractor — though the state denies any harm was done by the errors.

But these are all issues faced by students and every educator each year.

Anderson school officials, who have been pushing the eight-step process of evaluating students, must be on higher alert in assisting students. They should never teach to the test; there should be no excessive classroom devoted to prep time. But they should have plans, obvious to all staffers and families, in place as Indiana shifts to Common Core Standards. Educators must be on board to meet performance requirements at every level.

No one blames one element in administering ISTEP. But the frustration that only half of our Anderson students are passing both exams is growing again. No one can ease up on ISTEP.

In summary With about 53 percent of Anderson students passing both elements of ISTEP, no one can ease up on administering the test.