GARRETT — Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools Superintendent Tonya Weaver joined Allen County superintendents who gathered Wednesday in response to low ILEARN standardized test scores made public earlier in the day.

The Indiana Department of Education said results show a significantly lower percentage of students received passing scores with ILEARN across the state and in Allen and DeKalb counties, compared to the previous ISTEP+ tests.

If the new results were to be used to rank schools across the state, more than half would receive D or F rankings by the department. However, the department is asking the state Legislature to enact a “hold harmless” year for rankings.

In Garrett schools, 31% percent of students in grades 3-8 passed both the English language and math sections of ILEARN, compared to the state average of 37.1%. In grades 4 and 6, Garrett students passed the science exam at a 40.3% rate, compared to the state average of 47.4%. In social studies testing for grade 5 only, Garrett students passed at a 35.9% rate, below the state average of 46%.

“At Garrett-Keyser-Buter Schools, we remain committed to providing exceptional learning experiences for our students each day,” Weaver said. “Our primary focus is to meet each child where they are as a learner, uncover their passions and help them discover their talents.

“We are hopeful that the new sense of urgency swirling around state testing will lead to an improved system for our students. As Gov. (Eric) Holcomb stated, our teachers and students deserve consistency and continuity in how they are being measured,” she added.

Weaver also referred to remarks by Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick regarding the test results.

“While the 2019 ILEARN results do not provide a true reflection of the performance of Indiana’s schools, they do once again show us the importance of developing a modernized state legislated accountability system that is fair, accurate, and transparent,” McCormick said Wednesday.

“With this in mind, the department will propose the following legislative actions: place a ‘hold harmless’ year on 2018-2019 letter grades, pause intervention timelines for all schools, and provide the State Board of Education with emergency rule-making authority to review and reestablish the state accountability system. The success and well-being of our students, educators, and schools are dependent upon these actions.”

Over the years, the ISTEP+ assessment has been plagued with technical problems, with many directly impacting students. That led to a lack of confidence in the high-stakes assessment and its replacement by ILEARN, used for the first time last spring.

When the terms “hold harmless” and “suspend” are again used in reference to state testing, it is frustrating and discouraging, Weaver added.

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