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Many local ISTEP scores higher than state averages

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Officials report statewide improvements

By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

PERRY COUNTY - Most scores posted by Perry Central and Tell City-Troy Township students in Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress were higher than statewide averages, with double-digit differences in a number of cases.

Tony Bennett, state superintendent of public instruction, said in a news release Wednesday students across the state made significant gains, with 81 percent of public schools increasing percentages of students passing both the English-language-arts and mathematics portions of the ISTEP. Across grades, statewide pass rates were 74 percent for English, 76 for math, 67 for science and 65 percent for social studies.

Bennett said a majority of Indiana schools posted increases of up to 6 percent and called that " a tremendous step forward." He expressed optimism that "students will continue on this path to excellence" and said the state's goal is to have 90 percent of students passing both math and language-arts tests by 2012.

Perry Central

"We are pleased; we made some nice gains in some areas," Perry Central Community School Superintendent Mary Roberson said Friday. She reported the passing rate for math jumped nearly 10 percent from last year.

In comparing local to statewide passing rates, Perry Central's third-graders fared well, achieving an 89-percent rate on the math portion of the standardized tests against the state average of 75 percent. Eighty-six percent of fourth-graders, 90 percent of fifth-graders and 84 percent of sixth-graders passed the math test, versus statewide averages of 75, 80 and 77 percent, respectively. Seventh-graders were 6 points ahead of the state's 73-percent average and eighth-graders posted an 85-percent rate, 13 points above the average.

Fourth- and sixth-graders were tested in science, and 78 percent of the younger students passed, as did 75 percent of the older ones. State averages were 75 and 58 percent, respectively.

Social-studies tests were administered to fifth- and seventh-graders, and just over half of those at the Leopold school passed, with state averages at 64 percent for both grades.

Perry Central students fared better on the language-arts test, with 81 percent of third-graders, 83 percent of sixth-graders, 75 percent of seventh-graders and 74 percent of eight-graders passing, versus state averages of 79, 72, 72, 69, respectively. The passing rates for fourth- and fifth-graders were 3 percentage points below the state's averages, 77 and 71 percent.

Roberson said as good as her school's results were, "we have to continue to work harder." She attributed gains already made to hard work on the part of both students and teachers.

The results will be discussed at a school-board meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. today.

Tell City-Troy Township

Third-graders at William Tell Elementary School achieved a passing rate 3 points higher than the 79-percent state average in math and 6 points higher than the identical English average.

Eighty-three percent of fourth-graders passed the math portion, 87 percent passed the science and 90 percent passed the language-arts tests, compared to state averages of 77, 75 and 77 percent, respectively.

The fifth-grade passing rates were 91 percent in math, 76 in social studies and 81 percent in language arts, above the respective state averages of 71, 64 and 71 percent.

Sixth-graders matched the 72-percent state average in math, beat the state's 58 percent by 8 points in science and were 5 points shy of the 72-percent state mark in English.

Seventh-graders fell 10 points short of the state's 72-percent passing rate in math and 1 point short of its social-studies average, but bested its 72-percent rate in language arts by 4 points.

Eighth-grade averages were 69 percent for math and English. Tell City-Troy Township students missed that mark by 2 points in math and beat it by 6 in English.

William Tell Elementary School Principal Laura Noble said Friday students there also posted a gain of nearly 10 percent, in the English-language-arts area. That jump follows "a significant increase last year, which followed years of slow, steady growth," she noted. The rate of students passing both English and math portions climbed from 71.25 to 77.71 percent since last year, she added, attributing the achievement to staff members in all departments contributing and "students taking pride in doing their very best."

Cannelton

Seventh-graders were the only group in Cannelton who beat a state average in the categories The News examined, posting a 75-percent passing rate in math, 3 points above the Indiana figure. They fell 22 points short of the state's 64-percent average in social studies and its 72-percent rate in language arts. Forty-four percent of third-graders passed the math portion and 72 percent passed the English, with statewide passing rates at 79 percent in both areas. Fifth-graders' pass rate was identical in math and 61 percent in English, where students statewide registered a passing rate 10 points higher.

State rates were 64 percent for fifth- and seventh-graders taking the social-studies tests, with Cannelton registering 44- and 42-percent rates, respectively.

Sixth-graders achieved passing rates of 65, 55 and 50 percent in math, science and English, respectively, against state rates of 72, 58 and 72. Sixty-nine percent of Indiana's eighth-graders passed each of the English and math tests, while 52 and 43 percent of Cannelton's did.

Fourth-graders' results were suppressed for Cannelton in the state results because fewer than 10 of them took the tests. Low school populations can affect scores both positively and negatively. If four students take a test, for example, and two fail, that group's passing rate would be 50 percent. If the group had 10 members, two failures would result in an 80-percent passing rate.

Al Chapman, superintendent for Cannelton City Schools, said Friday he was pleased that students there showed gains higher than the 6 percent achieved statewide.

"It's good progress, but we want to see our scores go higher," he said.

All ISTEP+ information, including performance data for each corporation and school, is available online at www.doe.in.gov/istep.