Plymouth Community SchoolsAfter a month of delays, the ISTEP (Indiana State Testing for Educational Progress) scores for area schools was released on January 6. However administrators,  teachers and students must now concentrate on the next round of testing. The testing window opens on February 29 and closes on March 11. Typically, the test results were released earlier in the fall, but a series of problems caused the delay.

The test that was revised from previous years with new standards and rigorous testing at the state level led to much speculation that scores would be significantly lower. Scores across the state were indeed lower.

The testing results only show if a student passes or fails, not what portion or other information to help teachers focus on remediation.

Plymouth Superintendent, Daniel Tyree, sees the next round of testing as a challenge. Tyree said, “The test is more rigorous test than the test we have been taking. Additional rigor creates an exciting  challenge for our teachers and students.” He added,”I look forward to testing a second time on the new standards. Our teachers work very hard with every student to make sure that each student does his or her absolute best.” “ We will get a chance in a couple of months as it is almost time to take ISTEP again.” Tyree said.

Much of the responsibility for the testing administration and preparation falls on the shoulders of PCSC Director of Quality  Programs, Brooke Busse. Referring to the latest scores, Busse said, “We never like to see a drop in our scores. There has been a significant drop statewide.” She also explained how the new test material and timing may have affected the scores. Buses said, “New Indiana State Standards were released in the summer of 2014 and the students were tested on them in that same year. The timeline was very tight.”

Busse said, “I view these results as our new baseline. Teachers and administrators have already begun analyzing the ISTEP data to identify areas of need and next steps.” She contends the scores are not consistent with the education being extended. She said, “The drop in scores is not a true reflection of the learning that is happening in our classrooms every day. I am very proud of the work teachers and students have done and are continuing to do to prepare for these higher expectations.”

Busse explained that changes are being made corporation wide. “Over the last year and a half, we have worked very hard corporation-wide to design a curriculum and implement strategies that align to the expectations outlined in the new standards.”

Since ISTEP scores are one part of the way in which schools and school corporations receive a letter grade, many educators are predicting a significant decrease in their grades. Teacher compensation and state funding are now tied to the letter grade system.


Carol Anders Correspondent