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MCS ISTEP+ results shine spotlight on students’ growth

Posted: by Patricia Gibson, Communications Director
Preliminary ISTEP+ results released by the state Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, show Marion Community Schools students at every grade level displayed growth as compared to their previous year’s scores.

The most impressive growth can be seen in scores from Frances Slocum Elementary School, where last school year’s fourth-graders improved their ISTEP+ passage rate in math by 28.4 percentage points as compared to their third-grade performance. The same group saw a 19.3 percentage point jump in English/language arts year-over-year.

Those results validate the process of looking at data closely and consistently and making sure the right interventions are in place to help students grow, Frances Slocum Principal Melissa Jessup said. Based on 2012 data, she said, they had identified vocabulary as an area of need for their students. So they put research-based instructional strategies to use to address that need.

“This makes us even more motivated to look deeper at the data, look deeper at the interventions, and start those interventions even earlier,” she said. “We know that consistency with implementation of instructional strategies can pay off.”

She emphasized the importance of that consistency and of clear communication of expectations, plans, and strategies.

“It takes a team of people with a common goal moving forward very intentionally,” she said.

At Justice Intermediate School, students also logged impressive gains. Last school year’s sixth-graders improved their ISTEP+ passage rate in English/language arts by 10.7 percentage points as compared to their fifth-grade performance. And last year’s fifth-graders improved their math passage rate by 9 percentage points over their fourth-grade performance.

At Kendall Elementary, last year's fourth-graders made big gains in English/language arts, improving their ISTEP+passage rates by 10.9 percentage points over their third-grade performance. In math, the same group improved 4.6 percentage points over their third-grade passing rate.

At Allen Elementary, last year's fourth-graders achieved a big improvement in their math ISTEP+ passage rate, up 10.9 percentage points over their third-grade performance. And in English/language arts, the same group improved 6.6 percentage points over their previous year's rate.

Riverview Elementary's fourth-graders improved over their previous year's passage rates as well, up 6.7 percentage points in math and 4.3 percentage points in English/language arts.

And at McCulloch, last year's seventh- and eighth-graders made improvements as well. The seventh-graders boosted their ISTEP+ passage rates by 3 percentage points in math and by 1.3 percentage points in English/language arts. The eighth-graders achieved a 3.8 percentage point improvement in English/language arts and a 1.3 percentage point improvement in math.

“This is a positive report for our students and Marion Community Schools,” Superintendent Brad Lindsay said. “Our returning teachers and school leaders as well as the entire 2012-2013 staff should be proud of their work.” 

Students’ growth is an indicator that improvements made in recent years in MCS school buildings – from leadership and staffing changes, to designated  time for professional development and collaboration, to a focus on intentional implementation of research-based strategies and data-based decision making - have had an impact, she said.

“Everything that has been put in place is beginning to pay off,” she said.

But it’s not just the changes inside MCS school buildings that have helped students succeed, McVicker said.

“Our principals are intentional at meeting the needs of our staff and students, our teachers are intentional at meeting the needs of our students, but it’s just as important that our community has been intentional in supporting our students,” she said.

Jessup, principal at Frances Slocum, echoed that, emphasizing the community partners that have helped Frances Slocum make progress. She specifically cited College Wesleyan Church and the Frances Slocum PTO as key supporters, and she expressed gratitude for the support of parents.

And she said the progress shown in the ISTEP+ scores will only serve to motivate all involved to help every student reach his or her potential.

“The important thing is that our students are achieving and growing,” she said. “The bottom line is we want 100 percent of our students to grow every single day.”

That same motivation is spurring progress across the district, the superintendent said.

“I believe progress is being made as a result of the healthy culture and relationships being developed and the intentional instructional focus of what we want our students to learn, know and be able to do,” Lindsay said.

And in areas where strong student growth is not immediately clear in the ISTEP+ results released publicly Wednesday, school leaders are digging deeper into the data to see where improvements have been made and where additional intentional focus needs to be moving forward.

“What you don’t see in the public numbers,” said McCulloch Junior High School Principal Jim Fox, “is which specific portions students did well on. We’re still analyzing our numbers, but already what we’re seeing as we drill down into that deeper data is growth in the area of writing.”

That is encouraging, he said, because that was a point of emphasis for McCulloch staff and students last year.

The writing portion is scored on a 1-6 scale, he explained, and McCulloch last year challenged its students to score a 4 or above. According to data from the DOE, 78 percent of last year’s eighth-graders met that challenge. The year before, as seventh-graders, only 71 percent of them had done so.

Despite the gains across the district, there is certainly still room for improvement in every area at every level, as a look at the passage rates can clearly show.

“Lasting change takes time,” MCS Director of Elementary Education Brenda McVicker said. “We’re seeing steady progress.”

Superintendent Lindsay said he is looking forward to even betterthings.

“In Marion Community Schools,” he said, “our best has only begun!”
 
A look at year-over-year growth by grade level
Here’s a look at growth year over year across the district:

Notables:
  • Though this does not directly track individual students’ progress, it does reveal progress as a group of students continues to the next grade level, and takes the ISTEP+ for that level.
  • Nine out of 10 such content area comparisons (English/language arts and math at each grade level, fourth through eighth) demonstrate growth.

MCS ISTEP+ passage rates (spring 2013 and percentage point change since previous grade in 2012)

Fourth grade (2013) vs. third grade (2012)
  • English/language arts: 76.5%, up 7.3 percentage points over 2012 third grade passage rate
  • Math: 81, up 12.3 percentage points over 2012 third grade passage rate
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 71.8%, up 12.5 percentage points over 2012 third grade passage rate

Fifth grade (2013) vs. fourth grade (2012)
  • English/language arts: 60.4%, down 6 percentage points from 2012 fourth grade passage rate
  • Math: 73.2%, up 9 percentage points over 2012 fourth grade passage rate
  • STEP+ (both portions): 55.3%, down one-tenth of a percentage point from 2012 fourth grade passage rate
Sixth grade (2013) vs. fifth grade (2012)
  • English/language arts: 70.1%, up 10.7 percentage points over 2012 fifth grade passage rate
  • Math: 70.8%, up 2.4 percentage points over 2012 fifth grade passage rate
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 62.6%, up 6.6 percentage points over 2012 fifth grade passage rate
Seventh grade (2013) vs. sixth grade (2012)
  • English/language arts: 56.6%, up 1.3 percentage points over 2012 sixth grade passage rate
  • Math: 63.2%, up 3 percentage points over 2012 sixth grade passage rate
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 47.3%, up six-tenths of a percentage point over 2012 sixth grade passage rate
Eighth grade (2013) vs. seventh grade (2012)
  • English/language arts: 63.7%, up 3.8 percentage points over 2012 seventh grade passage rate
  • Math: 71%, up 1.3 percentage points over 2012 seventh grade passage rate
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 58.1%, up 1.9 percentage points over 2012 seventh grade passage rate

A look at the numbers by grade level
Here’s a look at passage rates grade by grade across the district:

Notables:
  • Grades four, five, and six displayed improvement in both English/language arts and math from 2012.
  • Grade four was the strongest-performing grade level across the district in both English/language arts and math

MCS ISTEP+ passage rates (spring 2013 compared to spring 2012)

Third grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 66.1% passed E/LA; 2012: 69.2% passed
  • Math: 2013: 64.4% passed; 2012: 68.7% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 56.2% passed; 2012: 59.3% passed
Fourth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 76.5% passed E/LA; 2012: 66.4% passed
  • Math: 2013: 81% passed; 2012: 64.2% passed
  • STEP+ (both portions): 2013: 71.8% passed; 2012: 55.4% passed
Fifth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 60.4% passed E/LA; 2012: 59.4% passed
  • Math: 2013: 73.2% passed; 2012: 68.4% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 55.3% passed; 2012: 56% passed
Sixth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 70.1% passed E/LA; 2012: 55.3% passed
  • Math: 2013: 70.8% passed; 2012: 60.2% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 62.6% passed; 2012: 46.7% passed
Seventh grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 56.6% passed E/LA; 2012: 59.9% passed
  • Math: 2013: 63.2% passed; 2012: 69.7% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 47.3% passed; 2012: 56.2% passed
Eighth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 63.7% passed E/LA; 2012: 64.8% passed
  • Math: 2013: 71% passed; 2012: 56.3% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 58.1% passed; 2012: 49.6% passed

A look at the numbers by school
Here’s a look at passage rates at each MCS school (spring 2012 compared to spring 2013):

Allen Elementary
Third grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 52.1% passed E/LA; 2012: 55.2% passed
  • Math: 2013: 55.4% passed; 2012: 55.2% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 46.5% passed; 2012: 44.8% passed
Fourth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 61.8% passed E/LA; 2012: 62.3% passed
  • Math: 2013: 66.1% passed; 2012: 60.7% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 50.9% passed; 2012: 49.2% passed
Frances Slocum Elementary
Third grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 62.5% passed E/LA; 2012: 53.2% passed
  • Math: 2013: 58.1% passed; 2012: 52.1% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 48.6% passed; 2012: 36.2% passed
Fourth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 72.5% passed E/LA; 2012: 50% passed
  • Math: 2013: 80.5% passed; 2012: 47.5% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 67.5% passed; 2012: 40% passed
Kendall Elementary
Third grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 67.4% passed E/LA; 2012: 78.7% passed
  • Math: 2013: 70.6% passed; 2012: 76.6% passed
  • STEP+ (both portions): 2013: 60.7 passed; 2012: 69.4% passed
Fourth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 83.3% passed E/LA; 2012: 72.4% passed
  • Math: 2013: 87.5% passed; 2012: 62.3% passed
  • STEP+ (both portions): 2013: 81.8% passed; 2012: 55.2% passed

Riverview Elementary
Third grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 81.9% passed E/LA; 2012: 77.5% passed
  • Math: 2013: 72.6% passed; 2012: 79% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 68.1% passed; 2012: 71.3% passed
Fourth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 81.8% passed E/LA; 2012: 69.6% passed
  • Math: 2013: 85.7% passed; 2012: 76.1% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 79% passed; 2012: 66.3% passed

Justice Intermediate
Fifth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 60.4% passed E/LA; 2012: 59.4% passed
  • Math: 2013: 73.2% passed; 2012: 68.4% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 55.3% passed; 2012: 56% passed
Sixth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 70.1% passed E/LA; 2012: 55.3% passed
  • Math: 2013: 70.8% passed; 2012: 60.2% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 62.6% passed; 2012: 46.7% passed
McCulloch Junior High
Seventh grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 56.6% passed E/LA; 2012: 59.9% passed
  • Math: 2013: 63.2% passed; 2012: 69.7% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 47.3% passed; 2012: 56.2% passed
Eighth grade
  • English/language arts: 2013: 63.7% passed E/LA; 2012: 64.8% passed
  • Math: 2013: 71% passed; 2012: 56.3% passed
  • ISTEP+ (both portions): 2013: 58.1% passed; 2012: 49.6% passed