Drop in ISTEP Pass Rates Expected

It is expected that the number of students who pass last spring's ISTEP will drop significantly.  Because Indiana adopted new Academic Standards which have college and career readiness in mind - there is an increase in expectations at each grade level.  The questions on the new ISTEP test given last spring utilized new kinds of questions including tech enhanced questions, that required a student to do many things online when answering.  Students may have struggled - not because they didn't know the answer, but because they were unfamiliar with the new way of answering the questions.

 Twenty states have given these types of tests across the nation and ALL have seen precipitous drops in pass rates.  We are expecting the same to happen in the EVSC - and across Indiana at not only public schools, but private, parochial, and charter schools, too.

When the bar to passing is raised, and a new style of test is used to measure student mastery - a drop in scores is likely to be seen. We are expecting declines in pass rates up to 30%. 

Here is an analogy to aid in understanding:
Let’s assume that we’re testing the jumping ability of a group of 6th graders.  We’ve decided that a proficient 6th grader should be able to high jump three feet, so we test all 6th graders against that standard and find that 75% are proficient because they can jump that high. 

Now let’s assume that after the test we decided that this standard doesn’t really reflect the performance of an athlete ‘on track’ for college, so we raise the bar to five feet.  After we raise the bar we find that only 20% of the group of 6th graders could clear this benchmark. 

Did the 6th graders’ jumping ability decline?  Of course not.  The students could still jump just as high, but their jumping ability was held against a higher standard in the second test. This is true with this new ISTEP – your student very likely knows more than they did last year, but since the expectation for passing has increased, they might have been a Pass or Pass+ in 13-14 on ISTEP and now are a DNP or a Pass.


Student Learning is Still On Track:

Research shows that in many cases student performance on the new state tests was lower than in previous years, but when student data from other assessments was consulted -- such as NWEA or the Nation’s Report Card (NAEP) -- performance held steady or improved.  The drops seen were attributable to raising the standard, rather than a decrease in student performance.

  • We see this in Indiana: While ISTEP scores show a decrease statewide, NAEP scores show that Indiana students are doing as well as they did 2 years ago and are outperforming students in other states. So the decrease in ISTEP scores does not reflect that our students know less or are performing worse than in year’s past.


Link to Letter Sent to Governor in February 2015 Regarding EVSC's concern about the expected declines in pass rates -- and all that it affects.

Link to Opinion article sent to Area Media in February 2015.