WARSAW — ISTEP is an educational nightmare to most. Students hate it, teachers hate it, educators hate it and Tuesday night Warsaw School Board discussed just how frustrating the test really was.
“It’s hard for me to accept that they are that low — not just here but all the kids in the state,” said school board member Jeremy Mullins.
While Warsaw Community Schools appeared to do well in ISTEP as a whole, the board were disappointed by the ISTEP 10 math results. Warsaw High School’s sophomores recorded a 35.2 passing percent for the 2017 testing. While initial responses notice the 64.8 failing percent, ISTEP result presenter Shelly Wilfong noted that “the state average passing percentage for math was 36.9 percent.”
However, it may not be entirely the student’s fault as Superintendent David Hoffert explained how he was informed that “The scores were completely off…statewide” with similar results at neighboring schools.
Fort Wayne Corporation saw a 24.8 percent among its sophomores, Plymouth Community School Corporation at 21.8 percent and Wawasee at 34.8 percent. Signature School Inc received the highest percentage in the state with 85.4 percent.
Hoffert continued, “Everybody’s scores were pretty low. There was some sort of issue with the test, with the scoring of it. You look at the scores…and the math is just incredibly low across the board.”
Board member Randy Polston questioned whether Indiana would address the scoring issue. Unfortunately, Hoffert informed the board that with ISTEP on the way out and being replaced with ILEARN the issue will not be addressed.
Polston responded, “This is what’s so frustrating to me…When people read the newspaper and see these scores, what are they going to think?”
Dani Barkey, however, stated. “We can’t teach to a test. We need to go deeper than that.” She explained how Warsaw Community Schools are seeking to dig deeper into material rather than broader. She believes that if the school focus on “power standards” and help the students excel to in the standards “then the testing will take care of itself.”
Warsaw is using Illumination as well a prescriptive teaching to improve the schools test results. Instead of a student completely retaking a test, teachers will target the areas in which a student is struggling and working on that one problem rather than the entire subject.
Meanwhile, third-eighth grades finished with above average scores in both english and math. The fifth grade finished 9 percent higher than the state average, and the sixth grade finished six percent higher. Warsaw finished in the top of the district in 11 of the 14 categories.