April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.
FRHC Schools: Letter to parents about ISTEP
By now I am sure most of you are aware of the numerous issues surrounding the 2015 ISTEP+ test and the continued delay in releasing test results. Administrators, teachers, and parents across the state continue to voice their concerns that up until this point seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. In a recent statement released by the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents the following concerns about ISTEP+ were highlighted:
Here at Flat Rock-Hawcreek we did not experience the connectivity issues that some schools faced, however our students and schools have most definitely been affected by the four additional areas of concern listed above. Most disturbing to me is the extreme delay in releasing testing results. While students and parents received preliminary results in November, the finalized results were not made available to the public until January 6th, 2016. Keep in mind that most of our students took the first portion of the ISTEP+ last February, over 11 months ago. It won't be until later this month (January 19th) that the State Board of Education is expected to place schools into grade categories, releasing school letter grades to the public. This delay has put teachers, students, and schools at a disadvantage as the data used to plan remediation, drive school improvement, and finalize teacher evaluations has been withheld for a full semester. As our students prepare to take the new ISTEP+ next month, any information gained from last year's test results is irrelevant; it is simply too late.
According to the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE), the purpose of the ISTEP+ is to measure student achievement in English Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies standards adopted by the State Board of Education. I argue that this is a very misleading definition of what this test really has become, as it has direct implications for student graduation, teacher evaluation/compensation, and school accountability. I am hopeful that the State Legislature, State Board of Education, and IDOE will take action to minimize the damage the latest version of ISTEP+ will have on all Indiana schools as collective voices are being heard.
The DOE has offered the following guidance when reviewing individual student ISTEP+ results from 2015:
Because the 2015 ISTEP+ was the first state assessment to be based on Indiana's new, more rigorous college and career ready standards, these scores are not comparable to previous pass rates. The 2015 ISTEP+ results instead established a new baseline for student progress towards college and career ready benchmarks.
Across the state ISTEP+ average scores are down just as they are here at Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corporation. As noted above this drop IS NOT a result of poor student performance or ineffective teaching. It is the product of a flawed testing system.
While the intent of this letter is to inform our students, parents, and community, I also ask you to be cautious when reviewing the recently released ISTEP+ results, as they are not a valid picture of the teaching and learning that is happening in our classrooms. If you have any questions or would like to express your concerns, please feel free to contact me.
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