ILEARN scores down across county schools

By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
cstephenson@dcherald.com

Following a statewide pattern, 2021 ILEARN scores are down across Dubois County schools.

These scores confirm what schools have suspected for more than a year — that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused students, particularly those in elementary and middle school, to struggle academically.

When ILEARN first rolled out two years ago, educators were warned that scores would likely be lower than usual as it would be more rigorous than previous standardized tests and would be computer adaptive, meaning that questions progressively get harder as students answer questions correctly.

What schools across the state didn’t anticipate was how a pandemic would cause students and teachers to shift to virtual learning for months at a time on top of other obstacles.

Out of all Greater Jasper elementary and middle schools, including Ireland Elementary, Jasper Elementary and Jasper Middle, 42.7% of students displayed proficiency in both English and language arts and math. In 2019, 51.8% of students showed proficiency in both subjects.

Similarly, 41.9% of Jasper High School students showed proficiency in both subjects on ISTEP testing, versus 53% of students in 2019.

“Our scores are no different than what has happened across the state,” Greater Jasper Superintendent Tracy Lorey said. “Although, when we look at our performance against the aggregate across the state, we’ll see that we definitely have been able to perform, as a district, better than the average.”

Lorey said that although the recent data is important, it would be inappropriate to compare 2019 scores to 2021 scores without incorporating the context of the past school year.

“The scores certainly give us some indication of where we landed at the end of a year of trying to educate kids in a very different manner than we had in the past,” she said. “I think we have to look beyond the scores themselves and really dig into the academic standards that were covered in those content areas and try to glean some idea of where our students showed strength … and what we need to spend our time and attention on.”

In response to pandemic learning loss, Greater Jasper has offered a Jumpstart program for grades K-8, credit recovery opportunities for high schoolers and will continue to offer additional after-school support.

“This isn’t something that takes one year to recover from,” Lorey said. “We may be providing additional support services for students for the next two to five years.”

Out of all Northeast Dubois elementary and middle schools, including Dubois Elementary, Celestine Elementary and Dubois Middle, 37.6% of students showed proficiency in both ELA and math. In 2019, 44.8% of students showed proficiency in both subjects.

For ISTEP, 40.3% of Northeast Dubois Junior-Senior High School students showed proficiency in both subjects, versus 43.5% in 2019.

“I think our teachers really worked hard to get kids back up to where they need to be since we knew they would come in with a little deficit,” Northeast Dubois Superintendent Bill Hochgesang said. “We feel like we’re doing the maximum we can do.”

Similar to Greater Jasper, Northeast Dubois schools are offering after-school support that has been used more this summer than on average, Hochgesang said.

For Southeast Dubois elementary and middle schools, including Ferdinand Elementary, Pine Ridge Elementary, Cedar Crest Intermediate and Forest Park Junior High, 54.5% of students showed proficiency in both subjects, versus 61.7% in 2019.

However, 59.6% of Forest Park High School students showed proficiency in both subjects on ISTEP, which is significantly higher than in 2019, when 40% of students showed proficiency in both subjects.

For Southwest Dubois elementary and middle schools, including Huntingburg Elementary, Holland Elementary and Southridge Middle, 39% of students showed proficiency in both subjects, versus 43.1% of students in 2019.

For ISTEP, 36.8% of students showed proficiency in both subjects, whereas 41.3% showed proficiency in 2019.

Over the next few years, school administrators and educators will work to offer additional support for students recovering from learning loss.

“The important thing to recognize is that the academic growth that students make throughout the school year is just as valuable or as important as the passing rates,” Lorey said. “We’re really going to have to focus on knowing where our kids are now.”

More test score information, such as scores specific to each individual school and subject, can be found at www.in.gov/doe/it/data-center-and-reports/.




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