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Hope district optimistic about tests

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Practice ISTEP+ testing went off without a hitch at Flat Rock-Hawcreek schools, easing worries about technology glitches when online testing starts Monday.

But much is still at stake at Hope Elementary School, which was named a priority school by the Indiana Department of Education after posting three consecutive low grades in the A-F Accountability system.

The school received letter grades D, F, and then a D in the past three ISTEP+ testing cycles.

It’s unclear what could happen if the school does not reach its goals. But teachers have been focusing on student growth in English/language arts and math, Principal Lisa Smith said.

She said the school is in much better shape than the state originally let on, and things are getting better.

Because of the priority school designation, administrators drafted a School Achievement Plan to improve student performance and school culture, and Smith said she can see the differences.

She’s happy with the most recent results from the Acuity test, which is administered three times a year as an indicator of performance on the ISTEP+ exam. The test has helped educators identify students who might need additional help, and Title I teachers have been providing intervention instruction.

Parents are more engaged and invested in their children’s academic achievement, and teachers are monitoring student performance on a daily basis, Smith said. They’re checking for progress after each lesson and finding help for struggling students.

The school board hired a library assistant at the school, and Smith said she will be bringing requests to hire two response-to-intervention classroom instructional aides to the board for approval at its May 6 meeting.

“We’re feeling pretty confident that everything will go OK,” she said. “Our biggest worry now is the computers.”

But Superintendent Kathy Griffey said any problems will be on the vendor, CTB/McGraw-Hill.

Although there were no problems identified during a practice test this week at the school, Oklahoma — another state using CTB/McGraw-Hill to administer statewide testing — halted testing due to online interruptions.

“It’s beyond our control,” Griffey said. “We’ve done everything we need to on our end.”

Griffey said parents also have a responsibility during ISTEP+ testing — besides setting an early bed time and ensuring a healthy breakfast.

“Encourage the children to do the best they can,” she said. “Take the test seriously and give them as much support as possible.”

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