Board hears ISTEP update

Friday, January 19, 2007

High school graduation rates and 2006 ISTEP results raised some concerns during the North Putnam School Board meeting Thursday night.

Supt. Murray Pride provided the board with a pie chart that explains what he has previously talked to the board about with the graduation rate. According to Pride, the state has come up with a new way of calculating the graduation rate.

This new formula begins by determining the number of students who entered as freshmen, then allows that number to expand and contract by the number of students either entering or leaving that graduating class and then divides that number by the number of students that actually graduated.

The formula basically looks at what has happened to the students in the time frame from freshmen to seniors.

Pride pointed out that the high school had a graduation rate of 82.8 percent with the graduating class of 2006. That puts North Putnam up there with another 158 other schools in Indiana with the same rate last year.

"That's not a great deal of a difference than we had with the old formula," Pride said.

North Putnam High School graduation rates have fluctuated between the high 80 to low 90 percentile in previous years.

But there is a problem with this new graduation rate formula. Pride said that in addition to the 82.8 percent of students who graduated, 2.8 percent of the class body either received a GED or special education certificate of completion, but are not counted in the graduation rate.

"They're not counted as graduates," Pride said.

Pride also said that with last year's graduating class, there was 6.9 percent of the students still working toward their diploma and a true drop out rate of 7.6 percent. The drop out rate does not only mean the student has dropped out of school, it also means the corporation does not know the current location of the student.

Pride said the corporation has some concerns with this new formula, and those concerns have been expressed.

Meanwhile, the school board was also presented with the results from the 2006 ISTEP exam. Pride said there were some aspects of the test that he was pleased with, however there were other things that still need to be improved upon.

Assistant Supt. Kevin Emsweller informed the board that the state was not pleased with the scores across the state, which holds true for North Putnam as well.

According to the diagram that Emsweller provided to the board, the state average score is in the low to mid 70 percentile. Compared to North Putnam's scores, third grade scores are above the state average, while fourth and fifth grade scores are close to the state average.

Scores from the middle and high school are a mixed bag.

Some are either below, at or a little above the state average.

Emsweller said the schools have been implementing different techniques to help students with the ISTEP tests.

At the elementary schools, the corporation has instituted the four block program with a strong focus on writing, while at the middle school, the corporation is focusing on remediation.

Pride said these reports give the corporation the opportunity to zero in on some specific issues.

"We are doing some things that we think we need to do and we need to focus on," Pride said.

The North Putnam School Board meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the corporation headquarters.

The next meeting is set for Thursday, Feb. 15 at North Putnam High School and it is open to the public.

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