Some local schools see ISTEP+ gains
By Christin Nance Lazerus and Carole Carlson Post-Tribune staff writers July 10, 2012 4:38PM
Hammond High School students work during a biology class Thursday February 9, 2012 while Principal Leslie Yanders (center, in pink) high-fives a student during a classroom visit. | File Photo~Sun-Times Media
By the Numbers
Lake County districts
Hanover Community 71.1%
River Forest Community 66.3%
Merrillville Community 66.9%
Lake Central 78.9%
Lake Ridge 60.3%
Crown Point Community 87.8%
East Chicago 43.6%
Lake Station Community 67.1%
Gary Community 43.2%
Porter County districts
Boone Township 82.8%
East Porter County 87.5%
Porter Township 76.2%
Union Township 83.8%
Portage Township 79.5%
Valparaiso Community 84.8%
Lake County: Crown Point’s Eisenhower Elementary, 96.3%
Porter County: Valparaiso’s Northview Elementary, 95.18%
Lake County: Gary’s Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy, 10.43%
Porter County: Chesterton Middle School, 71.97%
Updated: August 12, 2012 6:16AM
Crown Point Community Schools and East Porter County Schools students posted impressive pass rates on both English/language arts and mathematics sections of the ISTEP+ exam, ranking them among the top 10 districts in the state.
On Tuesday, the Indiana Department of Education released school and corporation results for the Spring ISTEP+ exam, which was given to around 500,000 students in grades 3 through 8. Students at each grade level are tested on English/language arts and mathematics as well as science for grades 4 and 6 and social studies for grades 5 and 7.
Crown Point’s pass rate was 87.8 percent and East Porter’s was 87.5 percent. Lake County districts that had at least 71 percent of their students passing — the state average — are School Town of Munster (81.1 percent), Lake Central School Corp. (78.9 percent), School Town of Highland (75.7 percent), Tri-Creek School Corp. (75.2 percent), School City of Hobart (74.4 percent), School Town of Griffith (72.1 percent) and Hanover Community Schools (71.1 percent).
In Porter County, districts above the state average were Valparaiso Community Schools (84.8 percent), Union Township School Corp. (83.8 percent), MSD Boone Township (82.8 percent), Portage Township Schools (79.5 percent), Duneland School Corp. (77 percent), and Porter Township Schools (76.2 percent).
In Portage Township, nearly 80 percent of students passed the exam, including 91 percent at Jones Elementary.
Superintendent Ric Frataccia said the increase proved remarkable because the district’s poverty numbers are increasing.
“We’re right in the game with the rest of Porter County — that’s a real tribute to our teachers,” Frataccia said.
He said administrators begin analyzing the scores together as soon they get them. Frataccia said they’ll target why some schools or subgroups went up and why some decreased. From there, he said, objectives are set for teacher evaluation plans.
“You have to get everybody working on the same page and convince the kids their learning and achievement is important and convince teachers they play a critical role,” said Frataccia, who assumed his new post earlier this month following the retirement of Michael Berta.
Two elementaries — Salk and Miller — in Merrillville Community Schools posted double-digit increases. Salk improved by 13 percent over last year’s scores and Miller went up 11 percent.
Superintendent Tony Lux credited new programs at the schools, including Balanced Literacy, Inquiry Math and Fast Forward, for boosting scores.
“They’ve been very relentless, spending every spare moment at their buildings to give students extra help.”
Lux said the district has been tracking its ISTEP scores for 15 years for grades 4-8.
“Over the last four years, we’ve made constant improvement and this is while our free and reduced lunch population is increasing.”
Individual school results
Gary students struggled considerably to pass both sections of the exam. Only 10.43 percent of seventh- and eighth-graders at Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy passed both core subjects; the passage rates at West Side Leadership Academy (15.33 percent) and Lew Wallace STEM Academy (20.38 percent) weren’t much better.
Six schools had a pass rate of more than 90 percent: Crown Point’s Eisenhower Elementary (96.3 percent), Salk Elementary (94.4 percent), Crown Point’s Lake Street Elementary (92.7 percent), Crown Point’s Jerry Ross Elementary (92.07 percent), Munster’s Frank Hammond Elementary (91.5 percent), and Crown Point’s Solon Robinson Elementary (90.42 percent).
Top performing schools in Porter County include Valparaiso’s Northview Elementary (95.18 percent), East Porter’s Washington Township Elementary (93.64 percent), East Porter’s Morgan Township Elementary (92.9 percent), Portage’s Jones Elementary (91.16 percent), East Porter’s Kouts Elementary (91 percent), and Discovery Charter School (90.45 percent).
Most charter schools showed gains on the exam. Thea Bowman Leadership Academy led the way with 63.96 percent of students passing both sections, followed by 21st Century Charter School of Gary (63.19 percent) and East Chicago Urban Enterprise Academy (60.07 percent). Only 19.29 percent of students at LEAD College Prep in Gary passed both sections, which was a nearly 20-point drop from 2011.
Among private schools, five schools had pass rates more than 90 percent: St. John Evangelist School in St. John (97.7 percent); St. Patrick School in Chesterton (96.3 percent); St. Paul Catholic School in Valparaiso (95.1 percent); Immanuel Lutheran School in Valparaiso (93.5 percent); and St. Mary Catholic Community School in Crown Point (91.9 percent).
Six Lake County schools made gains of more than 10 percent in the past year: Thea Bowman Leadership Academy (13.96 percent), Charter School of the Dunes (13.06 percent), Merrillville’s Jonas Salk Elementary (12.99 percent), Hammond’s O’Bannon Elementary School (11.58 percent), Merrillville’s Edgar Miller Elementary (11.35 percent) and Gary’s Bailly Preparatory Academy (11.07 percent).
The gains in Porter County were more modest, but five schools increased their pass rates by more than 4 percent: Washington Township Middle/High School (7.82 percent), Discovery Charter School (7.34 percent), Westchester Intermediate School (5.58 percent), Parkview Elementary School (5.33 percent) and Saylor Elementary School (4.83 percent).
Overall, 71 percent of Hoosier students passed both the English/language arts and mathematics portions of the test during the 2011-12 school year — a 1 percent gain on the previous school year and an 8 percent gain since the 2008-09 school year.
Statewide, more than 80 percent of students demonstrated proficiency on at least one of the four subjects tested for the first time. The percentage of students passing the mathematics portion of the test reached 81 percent, a 2 percent increase over the previous school year and a 9 percent uptick since the 2008-09 school year.
Students recorded a pass rate of 79 percent on the English/language arts portion of the test, 71 percent on the science section of the exam, and 69 percent on the social studies segment of the assessment. The pass rates for all subject areas represent improvements over the previous school year and gains of at least eight total percentage points since 2008-09.
“Hoosiers from all walks of life should greet this news with a standing ovation,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said. “More students are getting a world-class education in our schools. Thanks to the efforts of Indiana’s great teachers, we’re successfully educating a new generation of leaders and innovators who will build a more prosperous future for our state.”