By BRADEN LAMMERS
The long-awaited release of the state’s ISTEP+ test results were scheduled to be embargoed for public release until noon Wednesday, but were posted online hours earlier than expected.
It was originally estimated that results would be available at the end of August, but three weeks into September, scores had not been released to the public. And due to a technical glitch when the test was administered in April to third- through eighth-graders, its validity was questioned.
Greater Clark County School Board Superintendent Andrew Melin, because the results had been posted online, provided a brief overview of Greater Clark’s test numbers to the school board Tuesday night.
“We had, across our district, 77 percent of our students pass language arts,” Melin said. “In math, we had 80 percent of our students pass math.”
Corporation totals for the grades that passed language arts testing — 76.9 percent — were slightly lower than the number of students who passed the assessment last year. The drop in passage rate was 0.7 percent.
In math, district-wide, the 79.6 percent passage rate was a 0.4 percent increase from last year’s test results.
The percentage of students passing both math and language arts was 69.2 percent, a drop of 0.4 percent when compared to 2012.
According to the results, Greater Clark was still below the state averages for ISTEP+ scores in both language and math. He said the state average for the language passage rate was 78.7 percent, 1.8 percent higher than Greater Clark students, and the state’s rate for math was a 82.2 percent passage rate, 2.6 percent higher than Greater Clark students.
“We’re catching up to the state, but we’re still not where we want to be,” Melin said.
However, he explained that a slight drop in the passage rates may be attributable to the number of students that were required to take the ISTEP+ test in the spring.
Melin explained that when he took over as superintendent the state had notified the district that too many students were slated to take the IMAST test, an alternative assessment test for students with special needs.
He said it is not uncommon for the state to tell the district that there are too many people identified to take the test and the district was forced to have 105 of its highest performing special needs students that took the IMAST exam in 2012 take the ISTEP+ in 2013.
“What we’ll bring back to the table is of those 105 students that took IMAST [last year] how many of them passed ISTEP+ in 2013?” Melin asked. “My feeling is that we probably struggled with that number, and we knew that we would. We knew by doing that, to meet the state’s requirement of over-identification, we knew it would impact our passage rate.”
Another trend Melin noted was that in language arts passage rate, every district in the area saw a decrease.
“We saw this trend in our school system and were wondering what was happening,” he said.
The results are scheduled to be officially released Wednesday, and Melin said he will conduct a more in-depth analysis and present it to the board, likely at its next regular meeting.
“We’re not totally disappointed, but certainly we’re hoping to continue to improve,” he said.