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Oak Hill finds positives among low test averages

BY Samantha Oyler - soyler@chronicle-tribune.com

Despite low test score averages statewide, Valree Kinch told the Oak Hill school board there was some “very encouraging news” in the numbers.

“While data is an important part, it’s just one piece of the puzzle,” Kinch, Oak Hill’s director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, said at the board’s Monday meeting.

Average scores for the new ILEARN assessment across the state are below 50 percent proficiency in all categories, causing concern over upcoming school grades, which are usually taken into consideration when determining school funding levels.

Kinch said while the numbers were low, Oak Hill had more grade levels above state average than in last year’s ISTEP+ assessment.

Grades three and six were above the state average for mathematics, with grade eight very close.

Last year, only one grade level was above state average for mathematics, according to Kinch.

When compared to other school corporations in Grant County, Kinch said Oak Hill was No. 1 in 17 out of 26 categories and either No. 1 or No. 2 in 22 out of 26 categories.

When compared to 16 other neighboring school districts, Kinch said the corporation was No. 1 in science, No. 2 in social studies and in the top five for 14 out of the 26 categories.

Although ILEARN creators had two years to design the test, school board members expressed some concern over the way the assessment operates.

Kinch confirmed the assessment adjusts its rigor depending on an individual’s responses, meaning students are not taking the same test.

Kinch also said that instead of measuring whether or not a student meets the standards set for their grade level, the assessment is designed to measure a student’s college and career readiness.

“If they screw this up, we’re the ones to suffer,” board member Steve Fagan said.

The Indiana Department of Education has proposed legislators hold districts harmless on the 2018-2019 letter grades, which would mean that educators would not be considered at fault.

While the current scores are much lower than they’d hoped, Kinch assured the board that they were headed in the right direction.