This week, the state of Indiana got some great news.
Education, and making sure education funding dollars end up in the classroom, is one of the first things on everyone's minds right now.
This week, we finally received the results of the Indiana Statewide Testing for Education Progress-also known as ISTEP- which was taken by 500,000 Hoosier students this spring. and the results were nothing less than astounding.
81% of schools improved their percentage passing rate on English/language arts scores from last year. Across the state, pass rates went up by 4-6 percentage points in every category. This is incredible news for Indiana.
It means that school reform need not be limited to funding. It means that our teachers, our families, and our school corporations are capable of great leaps in a single year, and it means that our students are learning more than they ever have before.
At a press conference this week held by State Education Superintendent Tony Bennett, reporters had lots of questions about whether the test had changed since last year.
But Superintendent Bennett says that the 2010 test remained the same in terms of level of difficulty and content covered: "it's apples to apples," he kept saying.
According to a press release from his office, just like the 2009 test, the 2010 version of ISTEP+ included open-ended and multiple-choice questions in English/language arts and Mathematics at each grade level.
The test also included Science, for grades 4 and 6, and Social Studies, for grades 5 and 7.
Though significant gains were made across the state, Superintendent Bennett also specifically recognized the amazing work of two schools right here at home.
Otwell Elementary School in Pike County actually achieved 100 percent of students passing the Mathematics portion of the test, and Ireland Elementary School in Jasper led the state on the English/language arts portion of the test, with 98 percent of students passing.
My niece goes to Ireland Elementary, and I spoke to the fifth grade classes at both of these two schools this spring.
I was impressed with the depth of knowledge of questions that they asked. I have also talked to, and known, many of the faculty of these two schools, and I can tell you that there is a common denominator between them: there are teachers at both schools who are very committed to the individual excellence of their students.
If you know a teacher or student at one of these schools- please congratulate them the next time you see them! This is an unbelievable achievement, and schools around the state will be looking to them as a model in the coming year.
Other schools around the state also made huge leaps this year:·
At Carrie Gosch Elementary School in East Chicago, where 97 percent of the students qualifying for free or reduced lunch and 99 percent are from minority populations, almost 32% more students passed the ISTEP this year compared to last year.
Pettit Park School in Kokomo, where 77 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch, passing percentage scores increased by 23%.
Clearly, these scores show that high quality teachers and high expectations are the key to success in Indiana schools.