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September 18, 2013

ISTEP scores are settled

Local school districts finally get test numbers, with mixed results

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Area educators had to wait this year for ISTEP+ scores. And wait ... and wait some more.

When the package of scores was finally opened with the public release of numbers Wednesday, administrators likened it to a Christmas morning bearing some great gifts, with a sock or ugly sweater also under the tree.

English/language arts scores were down for all four school districts in Clark and Floyd counties, and standout grade levels fluctuated by school system.

New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. led area districts with 78.1 percent of students — those in grades three through eight — passing both the English and math portions of the test, although that number was down 0.8 percent from 2012. Clarksville Community Schools showed the largest gain, at 1.3 percentage points, of students passing both parts.

Here’s a look at each of the four school districts, in alphabetical order:

CLARKSVILLE COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

Kim Knott, Clarksville’s superintendent, said there was “some phenomenal progress” at the elementary school in English/language arts.

“We are actually the highest third grade for [area] corporations at 90.2 percent passing. I’m going to tell you, that’s just really exciting to see,” she said. “We were just shortly below that at fourth grade at 87.8. Again, we’re tied for tops in fourth grade in corporations around here.

“I know the elementary has just had extensive literacy professional development the last few years, and we’ve seen our scores increase as a result of all of the things that have happened at the elementary in English language arts. And that’s actually [kindergarten] through four," she added.

Knott said the middle school didn’t fare as well in English, but did do much better in math, including an 88.8 percent pass rate in math for eighth graders.

“So we’ve got some real inconsistencies at the same grade levels, I would say,” she said. “We have strengths at the elementary, we tend to have limitations at the middle school and vice versa. We’ve got to seriously look at this.”

Overall, Clarksville had 65 percent of students passing both parts of the ISTEP+ test, the lowest among the four school districts in the two counties, but up from 63.7 percent in 2012 and 62.8 percent in 2011.

“I’m going to just be honest with you — we know that’s in grades five through eight ... You can’t have 88 percent of your eighth-graders passing math, and those same kids, only 69 percent are passing English language arts. That accounts for the gap,” she said. “We can’t be strong in one area and weak in another area.

“We’ve got to be strong in both areas for our kids to have the skills that they need to move on to high school and then to compete once they get out of high school,” Knott said.

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