South Vermillion Community School Corp. is celebrating double-digit gains in 2012 ISTEP-plus scores.
In fact, the district led the state in ISTEP-plus gains for combined English/language arts and math scores, improving 17.8 percentage points, according to the Indiana Department of Education.
Last year, 58.1 percent of South Vermillion test-takers passed both sections of the test, compared to 75.9 percent this year.
The next highest school district in Indiana improved 12.6 percentage points, according to IDOE.
South Vermillion district officials staged a news conference Wednesday to announce the improvements.
“We’ve excelled to heights never before seen in this school district,” SVCSC Superintendent Dave Chapman said Wednesday.
Out of 1,035 elementary schools that took ISTEP-plus in Indiana, Ernie Pyle ranked fifth in the state for combined English/language arts (ELA) and math gains. Central Elementary ranked 12th in the state, and Van Duyn 36th.
Central Elementary ranked fourth in the state for English/language art gains and fifth in the state for math gains.
Out of 303 middle schools, South Vermillion Middle School ranked third for both ELA/math gains; 22nd for ELA gains and third in the state for math gains.
“Our students and our teachers didn’t just do a good job. You guys knocked this test out of the ball park,” said Dara Chezem, the district’s director of curriculum, instruction and assessment.
Those double-digit gains also occurred for special education students and students on free/reduced lunch.
At Van Duyn, scores for special education students improved 51.3 percentage points this year for combined ELA/math scores. This year, 72.7 percent of special education students at the school passed both portions of the test, compared to 21.4 percent last year, according to data provided by the school.
At Ernie Pyle, combined ELA/math scores improved 28.1 percentage points for students on free/reduced lunch. Last year, 47.4 percent of that group of test-takers passed, while this year it was 75.5 percent.
Districtwide, 83.6 percent of test-takers passed ELA, compared to 79 percent statewide; 85.6 percent passed math, compared to 81 percent statewide; and 75.9 percent passed both ELA and math, compared to 71 percent statewide.
“South Vermillion Community Schools is well above the state average,” Chapman said. “As your superintendent, I couldn’t be more proud.”
In explaining the reasons for the growth, Chapman said the district hired Chezem as director of curriculum, instruction and assessment this past year. It also hired five instructional coaches, one for each building.
Instructional coaches reviewed data and identified areas that needed to be addressed, Chapman said.
According to Chezem, the district identified students at risk for not passing and provided small group or individualized instruction for them.
The district also provided an extra half hour of math and English/language arts instruction each day in addition to what the state requires. The added half-hour was within the regular school day.
The instructional coaches “were integral in providing individualized instruction during those half-hour time blocks,” Chezem said. The instructional coaches “also looked at data to help teachers know which standards they needed to re-teach.”
During the news conference, attended by school board members, administrators, teachers and others, Chapman said, “This didn’t just happen by chance. There has been a lot of work, a lot of sweat, a lot of tears, a lot of stress and tension … but we persevered and came through and we showed what a team can do when they work together.”
This isn’t just a one-year blip, he said. “It’s a change in the climate and culture of our school district. We expect more from top to bottom. We’re fully committed to making sure this success continues,” Chapman said.
Ronda Foster, Ernie Pyle principal, credited teachers for their efforts looking at data and using it to drive their instruction. They continually evaluate student growth and put in place any needed interventions. “I’m very proud of the success of everyone involved,” she said.
Jan Scully, a fourth-grade teacher at Ernie Pyle, said she was “pleased, excited and thrilled to see the results. The children did a wonderful job with the support of teachers, staff, parents and the community. It was definitely a group effort.”
Asked her approach to helping students succeed, Scully said, “I have to know the needs of my students, meet them and push them to their ability.”
Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
District achieved 17.8 percentage point leap for combined English/language arts and math scores
South Vermillion Community School Corp. is celebrating double-digit gains in 2012 ISTEP-plus scores.
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