ISTEP: FWCS scores "steady" - December 11, 2006
In spite of several factors that research shows should make ISTEP+ scores trend downward, Fort Wayne Community Schools' 2006 results are holding steady in both English/Language Arts and mathematics. District officials released unofficial numbers during the regularly scheduled Dec. 11 meeting of the FWCS Board of School Trustees held in the Grile Administrative Center. The scores are not yet official because the state has allowed districts to have an extra week to correct demographic data on the tests; and to make sure the scores of high school students who are re-taking the Graduation Qualifying Exam (GQE) are not counted in the current GQE scores. The state does not include retesting scores in GQE results, only those of students taking it for the first time. Indiana Department of Education is due to release individual district and school scores next week. Unofficial FWCS scores for English/Language Arts show total percent passing remained the same as 2005 for third (66), sixth (59), seventh (57) and 10th graders (56). Fourth-graders scores climbed slightly to 66 from last year's 63; and the other grades declined slightly - fifth went from 65 to 64 this year; eighth from 58 to 56 and ninth down one point to 57 this year. Mathematics scores remain steady as well with the following grades posting the same scores as those of 2005: fourth (70), fifth (71) and sixth (72). Seventh grade went up to 72 this year, two points higher than in 2005 and 10th grade rose from 51 to 53. Grades that went down slightly were third, from 71 in 2005 to 69; eighth from 63 to 60 this year and ninth from 64 to 61. Holding scores steady is all the more remarkable given that the district is seeing a 13 percent increase this year among students taking ISTEP who qualify for the free/reduced lunch program - an indicator of poverty. Research shows these students have more barriers to conquer on their way to academic success. In addition, for the first time this year, students who do not speak English at all, or who have very little comprehension of it, were required to take the same ISTEP+ test - in English - with other students. In the past, Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students have taken a different test. Indicators show that testing more students who live in poverty and LEP students who do not speak the language should take scores downward. At FWCS, scores are remaining steady. There is some good news as well: ISTEP writing scores are up nearly across the board from last year. Only sixth and 10th grades failed to have a higher percent of students earning 4, 5, or 6 on ISTEP writing applications. And, the number of students earning a 6 increased in third, fourth, fifth and eighth grades this year. FWCS will continue to analyze the ISTEP scores with an eye on using it to improve instructional practices where needed to increase student learning.