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RESULTS from statewide standardized tests are anticipated in all school districts with measures of excitement and dread.
The recently posted results of the state’s IREAD-3 brought a mixture of relief and pride to administrators, teachers and students in Bartholomew County’s two school districts.
The IREAD-3 test is the latest in a series of state-required exams, this one intended to determine whether third-grade students are intellectually ready for a fourth-grade reading level.
Locally, students in both the Bartholomew Consolidated and Flat Rock-Hawcreek school corporations showed marked improvements over the previous tests in which the results were already deemed to be very positive.
The passing rate for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. climbed more than 2 percentage points to 91 percent. Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp., meanwhile, improved from 93.5 percent passing initially to 100 percent.
The Indiana Department of Education reported a 91 percent passing rate statewide, a half-percentage point better than the year before.
As in most standardized tests, while the results are black and white, the conditions under which the tests were taken are a definite shade of gray based on a variety of student backgrounds.
For instance, the original data showed that 848 third-graders in BCSC passed the test at a combined rate of nearly 89 percent in the last school year. During the summer, 38 students who failed were retested, and 28 of them passed.
Three of the 10 students who didn’t pass after the second attempt operated under special circumstances for physical disabilities, language barriers or other limitations, according to Teresa Heiny, director of elementary education for BCSC. The state does not require those students to pass the test to avoid remediation, as required of other students.
Without good-cause exemptions, the passing rate is 99 percent, according to the school corporation.
The test results are only a measure. The real importance rests in the process through which students learn to read.
One important step taken in BCSC was a program to group students based on their reading needs so that teachers can better provide individual attention.
This form of individual attention is a descendant of another program that used volunteers to work one-on-one with young students who had fallen behind their classmates in reading abilities.
The program known as Book Buddies has yielded enormous success in bringing struggling students on a par with their classmates, but it also has allowed teachers more time to work with the entire class.
There will continue to be the need to work with students who have fallen behind or are challenged by course materials, but steps such as those adopted locally show that they can master the material when given the individual assistance they need.
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