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ISTEP results letter

Northwest Allen County Schools  

 

October 5, 2018

 

Dear NACS Community,

 

ISTEP scores were released to the public across the state a couple of days ago.  Compared to other districts, NACS performed well.  However, the information continues to be irrelevant to us.  Why?  Because (1) the events yielding these scores took place more than five months ago and (2) the results continue providing zero information about why students passed or why students did not pass.   Therefore, the recently released data fails to offer useful information in helping us meet the individual learning needs of students.  Why is it important to receive information designed to meet the individual learning needs of students?  Test results are not an indicator of school or teacher quality.  On the other hand, how learning data, including results from both standardized and locally-created assessments, are used to improve learning opportunities for individual students is an indicator of school and teacher quality.

 

Thankfully, the results of NWEA and our locally-developed assessments support the expertise of our teaching staff by helping us determine where your child is on the learning continuum so we can identify each child’s learning needs.  Recent results from NWEA assessments inform us that:

  • 93.0% of our students either met or exceeded established reading benchmark scores for their grade level, demonstrated academic growth beyond the expectation of a typical school year, or both;
  • 93.4% of our students either met or exceeded established English/language arts benchmark scores for their grade level, demonstrated academic growth beyond the expectation of a typical school year, or both; and
  • 93.3% of our students either met or exceeded established mathematics benchmark scores for their grade level, demonstrated academic growth beyond the expectation of a typical school year, or both.

 

The reason we utilize results from our NWEA and locally-created assessments is because these assessments provide information about each student’s strengths and it helps us identify where each student needs to continue making progress; teachers use this information to adjust instruction as needed to meet individual learning needs of students.  The government mandated testing systems fails to provide such information.  The government-mandated testing systems focus only on reporting which children pass and which children do not pass arbitrarily established cut scores on tests designed to make each child standard.  These arbitrarily-established cut scores fail to align with widely-recognized national assessments such as NAEP, ACT, or SAT.  Because this is a budget year for our state legislature, please note for contextual purposes that the state of Indiana expends about $33 million on state and federal assessments that fail to provide useful information in regard to instructional needs and about $12 million on remediation for students who fail to meet state arbitrarily-established cut scores while spending less than $11 million on school safety resources.

 

Despite the mandates from the state and federal governments, we continue to invest in developing the expertise of our teachers and administrators.  We will also continue relying on this expertise to analyze the results of NWEA and our locally-developed assessments as well as information provided by local employers and colleges regarding preparation for life after high school.  This analysis helps us determine the individual learning needs of our students.  As a result of using available information, we successfully helped 98.8% of our students graduate within four years, more than 54% of our recent graduates earn an academic or technical honors diploma, and more than 76% of our recent graduates met or exceeded the state definition of College and Career Ready (CCR).  To be identified by the state as CCR, a student must earn college credit, an industry credential, or a qualifying score on at least one Advanced Placement exam prior to graduating from high school.  The state expects 25% of graduates to achieve CCR status. 

 

Our focus remains on our mission of developing the talent and nurturing the creativity of each learner.  Thank you for the opportunity to help children achieve their dreams and become contributing members of our community.

 

Respectfully,

 

Chris Himsel

Superintendent

Northwest Allen County Schools