FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – State standardized test results are in and paint a bleak picture of Indiana students and schools, but Allen County superintendents said that those results are not a good tool to measure their student growth.
According to the Indiana Department of Education is showing a significantly lower percentage of students received passing scores with ILEARN across the state and in Allen County. If the results were to be used to rank schools across the state, more than half would receive D or F rankings by the department.
In Allen County, Fort Wayne Community, Northwest, Southwest, and East Allen Schools failed to score any higher than an average of about 60 percent in English and Math competency. The districts said that the reason for this percentage drop lies in the test and not the students, considering their standards and most of their students from one year to the next are the same. The main difference was the test used to measure their competency.
Even with the lower scores, the superintendents said that they are not overly concerned with the low scores because they do not use the results in any way. The tests are administered at the end of one school year and the results do not come until the start of the next, so there is no way to follow up with students who may of been struggling. East Allen County Schools tests their students throughout the year so that they can catch struggling students while there is still time to help them.
“We have tests for all of our kids along the way whether it’s a kindergartner all the way to a twelfth grade student and we’re monitoring those tests and we’re providing interventions right on the spot,” said Marilyn Hissong, Superintendent for East Allen County Schools. “That helps our students grow, and then we’re monitoring that data for continued process of growth.”
Fort Wayne Community Schools, Northwest Allen, and Southwest Allen also said that they have their own way of measuring student growth that more accurately shows where students are at. The school systems hope that the community will take the time to talk to the students and teachers that are in Allen County classrooms everyday to see what children are learning and how they are progressing through the year instead of relying on standardized tests.
“We should be questioning the state about, what are you trying to measure?” said Wendy Robinson, Superintendent for Fort Wayne Community Schools. “If I were a parent, I would be asking the question, so, what am I getting out of this? What is my child getting out of this? Because I go just go talk to my child’s teacher and I can get a real good idea of where my child is in terms of meeting state standards”
As far as Northwest Allen County Schools is concerned, Superintendent Chris Himsel said that they look more at how prepared their students are to live successful lives than how well they score on a test.
“What we’re interested in is what are the job skills, what are the knowledge base that needs to be done to be successful for employers in our region, and we want to make sure that we are preparing kids for that,” said Himsel. “We just want to remind people in our community, that’s where our focus is. Our focus is not chasing test scores.”
The state does recognize that something is flawed with the new test. Before the results came out, Governor Eric Holcomb and State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick called for a “hold harmless” exemption so that schools would not be penalized for this year’s poor results.