By TARA HETTINGER
The ISTEP+ exam overall passing rate dropped by about 3 percentage points for Clarksville Community School Corp. — going from 58.1 percent passing both math and English/language arts sections last year to 55 percent in 2008.
“I’m very frustrated right now because I can’t pinpoint [the problem],” Superintendent Steve Fisher said. “I accept the challenge in trying to move the scores in the direction that we want. Our principals and our teachers accept that challenge. But when you work really hard ... and you don’t see that positive result in the end, it takes you awhile to get the frustration level worked out.”
The issue could be a number of factors. Testing this fall was delayed because of the windstorm knocking out power to much of the area. Many children in Clarksville also are part of a transient population, which means they move from school to school during the school year, Fisher said. Also, almost half of the corporation’s students are on either free or reduced lunch, according to the Indiana Department of Education.
“We cannot look at any of that as excuses because those are things that we cannot control,” Fisher said. “Whether it’s poverty, whether it’s transient, whether it’s socioeconomic, whatever it is, we cannot and will not use those as excuses. Do they effect us? Yes, but we cannot control those things.”
“We have to worry about what we can control and what we can control is our method of instruction and assessment.”
Fisher said administrators are working with building principals to develop an action plan for improvement. He said they also are looking at the details, such as if there are trends in what students missed on the test. Fisher said teachers are working to share ideas on what works to eliminate those trends in the future.
“We’re not going to stand still,” Fisher said.
He said even though the news may not be good, administrators and teachers are upbeat and ready to tackle the issue.
As for Indiana, the overall state average for passing both tests was 64.7 percent last year. This year’s average was not yet available.
All ISTEP+ information, including performance data for each corporation and school, is available online at www.doe.in.gov/istep
By the numbers
2008 English/language arts and math ISTEP+ exams
Grade...........% passing both
• Those averaged out to equal 55 percent. According to the Indiana Department of Education, last year’s average was 58.1 percent.
What is ISTEP+?
• The Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus, or ISTEP+, measures what students know and are able to do at each grade level. Based on Indiana’s Academic Standards, ISTEP+ provides a learning checkup to make sure students are on track and signal whether they need extra help.