ISTEP scores were discussed by administrators at the Culver Community Schools Corporation during Monday’s school board meeting. The school principals said they weren’t allowed to go into specifics about the preliminary scores but said they were noticeably lower than in previous years.
Middle/High School principal Brett Berndt estimates Culver’s drop in scores is comparable to that experienced by other schools around the state, but for right now, he says there’s not a lot of information that can be obtained from the test scores, “The hard thing is once you get your scores, you really don’t know what they mean because there’s really nothing to compare to at this time. We don’t know what area schools have; we don’t even know what the state standard is at this time. I don’t think that’s going to get released until December. So really, the scores don’t mean much right now, besides that we can look at individual students and see did they pass or not pass.”
He says the reason for the drop in scores was the use of a new test, which required students to meet new state standards without giving teachers much time to prepare them, “Unfortunately, it was extremely harder, I think in Math, than anything else. English was kind of the same plateau, a little bit more difficult, but the Math test was extremely hard, and probably from third grade through eighth grade, I think that made it difficult. That’s why scores went down, and the bad part is we can’t even compare last year’s test, so to speak, to this year’s test because we’ve got a new company making the test. So I think for about two to three years, these scores are going to mean pretty much nothing.”
Elementary school principal Erin Proskey says teachers only had half the school year to redo their lesson plans to prepare the students to meet the new standards, “They realigned a lot of the math and the students had new vocabulary that they had never used, and then when they got onto the test, the tools on the test were different. The students didn’t know how to use the technology that used on the test, and we had to use hours and hours and hours of specials time, actually, to have the students go through pretesting.”
She says even more changes are coming to ISTEP testing, “When we’re graded next year on the test, there will be a whole new A through F grading system, where students will be measured, I believe, on their individual achievement and their individual growth. So that’s going to be a whole new system also. So every year, everything keeps changing, but we’re all graded the same, which is unfair to the students, it’s unfair to the teachers, it’s unfair to our corporation, it just seems unfair all the way around.”
Proskey says she doesn’t think the tests are a true reflection of what students and teachers are capable of doing.