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ISTEP test results arrive amid controversy in Michiana

Students across Michiana can now access their Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress (ISTEP) scores after a long delay.

Local educators want parents to remember the test was entirely new format-wise and unusually low scores are expected.

“We can’t compare this year’s test to last year’s test scores,” South Bend Schools Superintendent Dr. Carole Schmidt said. “It’s like apples and oranges.”

Indiana students took the ISTEP back in February and March and have waited nearly twice as long than in the past to receive their scores.

“It’s really sort of put us in a bind in terms of using data to drive instruction in the classroom,” Mishawaka Schools Asst. Director for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Theodore Stevens said.

Michiana school officials in three different districts said the test and its delayed results are taking a toll on everyone.

“We don’t have the data that gives us any way to gauge at least how well a child is doing based on this particular test last [school] year,” Dr. Schmidt said.

Although parents and students can now access their individual scores, teachers and school officials are struggling while waiting for the overall test scores, which won’t be available until at least mid-December.

“[The overall scores] matter fairly significantly in terms of our school letter grade,” Dr. Stevens said.

ISTEP test results are a factor in determining teacher evaluations and school letter grades each year, but because overall results are so delayed, school officials have to wait.

“I do not find this an appropriate way to determine the effectiveness of a teacher,” Dr. Schmidt said.

School officials said they do not want parents to worry if their child scores lower than expected on the test – which was an entirely new format.

“These are preliminary test scores,” Penn-Harris-Madison School Corp. Asst. Superintendent Dr. Kay Antonelli said. “There is a lot of data in there that may still not be attributed to either a pass or a fail score.”

Dr. Stevens said students could potentially be impacted by the late test results because the scores are often used to help a student in between school years.

“We would probably enrich that student or even remediate that student differently in the classroom had we had those results at the beginning of the [school] year,” Dr. Stevens said.

Parents and students can access ISTEP results online until Friday.

You can also request a re-score of the test if you feel it is necessary.

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