April 4, 2018 at 5:30 p.m.

Students prepare for second round of testing

By By Paul [email protected]

Flat Rock-Hawcreek School officials are expecting computers to run smoothly and students to perform solidly during the second phase of ISTEP+ testing, even as Indiana's more discouraged corporations turn back to pencil and paper.

J.P. Mayer, principal of Hauser Jr./Sr. High School, and Jessica Poe, principal of Hope Elementary School, said teachers and students are ready to do their best on this final phase, which is taking place more than a month after the first.

Starting Tuesday, students in Grades 3-10 will be tested via multiple choice questions in the areas of Math and English/Language Arts, the principals said. Seventh Graders will be tested additionally and also by way of multiple choice in Social Studies.

Tests in the local school corporation will be performed on computers, as they were in Phase 1. That's in contrast to other corporations, which are testing by pencil and paper because of problems in recent years with statewide system crashes and delays.

"Our testing director, Alison Wold, has been doing an outstanding job of preparing for this testing," Mayer said. "All teachers and students know where they are supposed to be and what to do. We anticipate a smooth process again, just as we did earlier in the year."

The principals' confidence in their students is significant, given that Flat Rock-Hawcreek last year saw its overall pass rate on the English/Language Arts portion drop from 79 percent in 2014 to 62 percent in 2015, the pass rate on the Math potion drop from 87 percent to 62 percent, and its pass rate for both sections drop from 74 percent to 50 percent.

Those poor performances were mirrored in school systems across the state, due to changes in the statewide scoring system.

Mayer and Poe have said a prediction tool called Acuity convinces them that scores will improve significantly this time around at the local level. Acuity data is collected three times a year and shows the progress for every student, including those with higher abilities. It also gives teachers and administrators a breakdown of each child's remediation needs.

For now, that gives Flat Rock-Hawcreek schools some comfort. And they won't have to worry about it at all in the next few years.

Gov. Mike Pence last month repealed ISTEP amid concerns over computer glitches, overly lengthy tests and tougher learning standards. That means ISTEP after this year is history, as state education officials have vowed to find a replacement.

Whatever the state comes up with will be ready for the 2016-17 school year.[[In-content Ad]]