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MSDWT Spring 2019 ILEARN Statement

 INDIANAPOLIS, IN (September 4, 2019) – The Metropolitan School District of Washington Township (MSDWT) received final Spring 2019 ILEARN student results from the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) on August 15, 2019.  However, aggregated corporation and school data was embargoed by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) and could not be shared publicly until State Board of Education (SBOE) approval on September 4, 2019. 

MSDWT saw a decline in absolute student proficiency in both English/Language Arts (ELA) (56.3% to 43.7%) and Math (46.7% to 41.3%).  While these results seem alarming, statewide Indiana proficiency results for all students had much more significant declines than for MSDWT students.  The percentage of MSDWT students who were proficient in ELA declined 12.6% year-to-year while total Indiana student proficiency declined 16.6%.   Similarly, the percentage of MSDWT students who were proficient in Math declined 5.4% year-to-year while total Indiana student proficiency declined 11.0%.  Year-to-year proficiency changes of this magnitude are not a function of academic instruction.  Instead, they are a function of a new assessment, assessment vendor, and likely improperly set assessment cut scores. 

While Indiana Academic Standards did not change from the 2018 to 2019 school year, MSDWT anticipated reduced performance on ILEARN based on similar trends when new assessments were implemented in the past.  This has caused great frustration for MSDWT educators as state-mandated assessments and assessment vendors have changed at a tremendous rate in recent years making it incredibly difficult to use state-mandated assessments to measure student academic proficiency and growth.  A recent article published in the Journal & Courier stated:

“ILEARN is just another version of standardized testing like ISTEP.  However, ILEARN has some disconcerting implementation practices that will negatively impact students, their teachers, and their respective school districts.


Those practices include:


  • Testing students on materials they had very little exposure to.
  • Providing a rescore request timeframe before parents or school administrators could access any student’s ILEARN score.
  • Setting much higher pass/failure cutoff scores after the testing was concluded.”

The article also stated:

“What this means is that most Indiana public schools’ ILEARN scores will be significantly lower, thus creating a perception that public school teachers are not adequately providing Indiana children with a high-quality education.  This is simply not true.”

These results have also yielded a statement from State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick:

“During the past two weeks, districts and schools received embargoed ILEARN scores.  When compared to past ISTEP+ scores, the scores for Indiana’s new assessment, ILEARN, indicated lower achievement levels across the state in both English/language arts and mathematics.  The combination of the rigors associated with this newly aligned college and career readiness assessment, national normative data, and the defined established performance cuts all contributed to the lower performance levels.  While frustrating, performance dips at some level were expected.  ILEARN scores will be made public at the September 4 State Board of Education meeting. The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) will advocate for legislative action addressing the negative impact on educators, schools, districts, and communities.  In addition, IDOE will continue to advocate for a new, modernized, state-legislated accountability system that is fair, accurate, and transparent.”

Governor Eric Holcomb also made the following statements:

“The results of the 2018-19 ILEARN proficiency test are scheduled to be released next week. The results will show a decrease compared to the previously administered ISTEP+ test. Since this is the first year of the ILEARN assessment, I will ask Superintendent McCormick to support my request that the General Assembly take action to hold schools harmless so the test scores do not have an adverse impact on teacher evaluations and schools’ letter grades for the 2018-19 school year. This action will ease the transition to ILEARN, which is a student assessment that allows Indiana to comply with federal ESSA requirements.

 I appreciate the dedicated work of Hoosier educators. Bringing consistency and continuity to how we measure student progress and preparing students for post-secondary success is a shared and important goal.”

While these statements and any related actions to resolve the negative impacts on students and educators are appreciated, this is a damaging repetitive cycle to students and educators.  MSDWT made an eerily similar statement after the Spring 2016 ISTEP+ results were released resulting in the same issues that have gone largely unresolved by IDOE and SBOE to date.

As a necessary remedy to these issues, MSDWT continues to implement additional assessments such as NWEA, Math Facts Benchmarks, and, Fountas and Pinnell Reading Assessments throughout the year to measure student academic proficiency and growth.  These additional data points compare MSDWT student performance against national norms.

Examples of MSDWT student learning:

NWEA Spring 2019 Reading Students Meeting Growth Targets = 80.4%

NWEA Spring 2019 Math Students Meeting Growth Targets = 83.5%

Graduation Rate 2017-18 = 90.1%

Advanced Placement, Advanced College Project, and International Baccalaureate Courses Enrollment 2018-19 = 40.2%  

We have amazing students, educators, families and schools in Washington Township who are making our community a better place every day.  Although some of our students may need additional time and support to master the Indiana academic standards, MSDWT students are learning and progressing well academically, socially, emotionally, and culturally. 

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