It's a difficult achievement for a student to score a perfect mark on the ISTEP mathematics test or the English/language arts test that are taken every spring across Indiana.
As North Adams Community Schools officials pointed out at Tuesday night's school board meeting, a school may go several years in between having a perfect score.
But at the most recent meeting, Bellmont Middle School staff members trotted out FIVE students who did just that in the testing done last spring on the math side. The NA school board honored all five — Jordan Fuelling, Rylie Houser, Caleb McCarty, Emmanuel Romero, and Ariel Valle — with North Star awards for their outstanding accomplishment.
And statistics provided by Krista Schloss, North Adams director of programs and assessment, were even more pleasing to the board. On the math side, the stats show North Adams students for the third year in a row are significantly higher than the state average in the number of students who have passed. A total of 85.9 percent of the NA students passed the math ISTEP challenge in 2012 as opposed to 83.1 percent in 2011 and 80.82 in 2010. (Indiana education officials changed the timing of ISTEP tests from the fall to the spring in 2010.) State averages for those three years (starting in 2010) were 77 percent, 79 percent, and 81 percent.
"Historically, North Adams students have performed better in math than on the English/language arts test," Schloss said. "It's always a goal to have 100 percent pass, but we know that's not a realistic goal. Getting closer to 90 percent is possible."
Schloss said the teachers at North Adams have done a remarkable job of implementing the Indiana academic standards-based instruction and that students take the ISTEP test very seriously. She added that "parents are on board with us by helping at home and that's a tremendous help. Our food service staff recognizes that proper nutrition helps a student function better and their menus plus snacks during the day help students perform to their best ability."
Test results for the English/language arts ISTEP have also shown North Adams with an edge over the state average in the past three years. The pass rate for North Adams students has risen from 77.33 in 2010 to 80.7 in 2011 and 82.6 in 2012.
Just eight years ago, only 65.16 of the North Adams students passed the English/language arts portion (2006) and it was not until 2010 that the number of North Adams students passing English/language arts was higher than the state average. Roughly 79 percent passed on the state level in 2012.
Schloss noted that in the past some students have done significantly better on one test than the other, but in 2012, 77.3 percent of North Adams students passed both the English/language arts and math tests while the state average was just over 70 percent.
The year 2010 again started a trend in which the number of North Adams students who passed both tests was higher than the state average. Prior to that year, North Adams students were nearly equal to the state average or a few percentage points below.