Chesterton Tribune



Administrators speak on ISTEP scores new test

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Wednesday the Indiana Department of Education released ISTEP+ scores for tests that students took in spring. This is the final year students in grades 3-8 will take the ISTEP+ before transitioning to ILEARN. The Chesterton Tribune reached out to local schools for comments on the 2018 scores and the path to ILEARN.

All of the students at Saint Patrick School passed the math portion of the ISTEP+ this year. St. Pat’s Principal Richard Rupcich reported that only four of the students who were tested failed to pass a section of the test.

Rupcich was “extremely proud” to learn the results of this year’s round of testing--in which it appears that St. Pat’s had the second highest percentage of its tested students pass both the English/Language Arts and Mathematics sections across the state with 98% of tested students passing both. Another private Indiana school, North Star Montessori, saw 100% of its students pass both.

“It’s a credit to our students. They come to school ready to learn. They do their homework. They take the test seriously,” Rupcich said. “That mindset comes from their parents who work with them and partner with us in the education process.”

Rupcich noted that another point of pride for St. Pat’s is the dedication of its teachers, many of whom are long-time employees who maintain a stable curriculum that gets results. He said the continuity creates “a continuum of education and a blending of education that’s pretty spectacular.”

Meanwhile, CEO and Head of Discovery Charter School Ernesto Martinez was also optimistic about student scores. At Discovery, 83.6% of students passed English and 76.3% passed math, with an even 72% passing both, a marked improvement from last year when 65.9% of tested students passed both.

“I think we saw good growth compared to last year,” said Martinez. He also reported that the teachers and staff will examine areas of the test where students could improve and consider adapting lessons to fill gaps in comprehension.

Martinez was “very excited” by this year’s scores and credits the dedication of his staff and teachers and their creative approaches to classroom teaching for improving student performance on the test.

This being the last year for ISTEP+ in grades 3-8, Rupcich and Martinez also shared what preparations are being made for the transition to a new test--ILEARN--at their respective schools.

ILEARN, which the DOE announced last year was slated to replace the ISTEP+ for grades 3-8 in the 2018-2019 school year, will add computer adaptive components to the test at the elementary level.

“ILEARN assesses the same Indiana Academic Standards as ISTEP+, but educators reframed content priorities and item presentation to ensure each item solicits evidence of proficiency based on the Indiana Academic Standards,” said the DOE.

Grade 10 students will continue taking the ISTEP+ through the 2022 cohort, when new graduation pathway requirements kick-in, as a measure of student preparedness, according to the DOE.

As far as student success goes, Rupcich said, “We don’t teach to the test, so we won’t prepare at all. We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing.” Students at St. Pat’s will continue learning the math concepts that students a grade above them typically learn, beginning in kindergarten. The only instructional changes may involve improving computer proficiency for third and fourth graders, according to Rupcich.

ILEARN signals a shift entirely away from testing with paper and pencil, and Rupcich said he’s heard concerns about that shift affecting younger students. “They might know the answer, but they don’t know how to posit that on a computer.”

Rupcich said a handful of teachers and staff have attended or committed to professional development seminars to learn more about the ILEARN, including a first grade teacher, a robotics teacher, and IT personnel. The IT personnel are also working to make sure the school is prepared for testing tech-wise.

Martinez reported that his staff have reviewed the materials that have been released so far related to ILEARN and are working to familiarize themselves with the new platform as well. Two people from Discovery Charter participated in end-of-year committees about the new test. Five more are scheduled to attend upcoming professional development seminars.

The DOE provided a link to information on available ILEARN resources for educators at and a link to information for parents and guardians at


Posted 10/5/2018




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