03/08/12 Plymouth Schools’ students were given lots of encouragement and good advice as they began three days of ISTEP (Indiana State Testing for Educational Progress) testing starting on Tuesday.


Angie Mills, Jefferson Elementary principal, said, “Students at Jefferson Elementary are eating breakfast free of charge the week of ISTEP thanks to our PTO.” She said, “We kicked off with a pep rally on Monday morning with a Podcast of the staff encouraging students to do their personal “Jet” (Jefferson Jets) best. Students are encouraged to get a good nights rest and take a deep breath.”

Mills added, “Jefferson 3rd and 4th grade students are prepared for the challenge and we are excited to see how they soar to success.”


Speaking for Lincoln Junior High, Assistant Principal Reid Gault said, “Our teachers have worked hard developing strong common assessments that inform our instruction, therefore we are making adjustments for students throughout the school year so that they are prepared for ISTEP.” Gault too has confidence that the students testing will do well. He said, “We are preparing them for success on the ISTEP everyday.”


Our focus in preparing students for ISTEP lies in the abundant amounts of reading, writing and critical thinking that our teachers emphasize everyday in all classes. Gault said. “Tasks students to do everyday are much more challenging than the ISTEP so that when faced with the test our students are prepared and ready to be successful.”


Gault indentified a number of factors that contribute to the school’s ongoing success. He said, “We encourage kids to get a good nights rest and eat breakfast prior to the test.” He also understands the need for parents and others to take an active part in getting their children prepared. He said, “It takes both preparations here at school and at home for students to be set up for success.  Fortunately, we have a strong community that values education and our high student achievement is the result of our community’s commitment and values. “


Third and fourth grade students at Menominee Elementary are all enjoying free breakfast this week.  “It is one of the small ways to make students feel a bit more at ease over taking the ISTEP,” said Michael Dunn, Menominee principal.

Dunn said, “Students across Indiana are taking the applied skills portion of the ISTEP this week.  The test is a high-stakes test, with the results affecting student placement, teacher evaluation, and curriculum development.”  “Because of the importance of this test, the Menominee PTO felt compelled to make sure the students got the best start possible start, a warm and nutritious breakfast. We know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”

He added, “It is sad that we cannot afford to do this every day,”


Dunn feels that the students are prepared to do even better this year.  “The teachers and their own classroom data show great promise to overall mastery of the standards,” commented Dunn.  Even the students understand the importance with students now keeping track of their own mastery using data folders.”  “We have to remember that these are human beings.  The stress of this test, albeit important, unfortunately does take a toll on some kids, and we have seen that before.” he said.

“We are very fortunate that our parents also understand the importance as well, and are part of the many academic successes Menominee has seen.” said Dunn.

Menominee Elementary has been twice awarded by Indiana Department of Education as a High Performing School under the Title I Distinguished School Program.


Riverside Intermediate students are finding encouragement from their teachers and principal, Donna Burroughs. She said, “I believe the students understand the importance and for the most part. I think they try their best.”

“We had a pep rally last Friday to relieve some of their test anxiety and review some tips like “eat a good breakfast, get lots of rest, and do your best”. Burroughs said.

“I believe Plymouth Schools have been having success with these tests because our curriculum and instruction are aligned with state assessment expectations, and of course, we have outstanding teachers.”
She also praised the part that parents play in getting students “test ready”. Burroughs said, “Our parents are supportive and show this by getting their children to school on time and encouraging their children to read and do their homework assignments.  Parents also have rescheduled appointments so their children could be at school for the testing.”

At the end of the week, the Riverside Intermediate PTO is providing ice cream as a special reward.

Carol Anders Correspondent