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ISTEP results find Andrean tops in NWI and 12th in state

 

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Conducting research in teacher Jaycob Knazur's U.S. History class, Andrean High School senior Kiera Markham uses a laptop computer with classmates Joshua Goodman and Rylee Horn working nearby, at the Merrillville school on Dec. 19. As AHS celebrates earning the region's top ISTEP scores, Andrean students, administrators and teachers continue to work at maintaining the school's excellence. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)

 

 

by MARLENE A. ZLOZA

Northwest Indiana Catholic

 

MERRILLVILLE – If you notice Andrean High School juniors walking a little taller these days, it’s perfectly understandable.

       The recent release of Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress results for last year’s high school sophomores indicate that Andrean’s combined Mathematics and English Language Arts scores rank the school 12th out of 428 schools statewide - the highest ranked school in Northwest Indiana.

       “This is great news,” said Dr. Joseph Majchrowicz, director of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Gary.

       According to the Indiana Department of Education, ISTEP+ “is (designed) to measure student achievement in the subject areas of English/Language Arts, Mathematics and Science. In particular, ISTEP+ reports student achievement levels according to the Indiana Academic Standards that were adopted by the Indiana State Board of Education.”

       While state legislators and education leaders, including a new incoming state school superintendent, debate the fate of ISTEP and its promised successor, Andrean administrators are pleased to have tangible evidence that their students are being well-educated.

       “Our students prepare for the test primarily through our own curriculum; our textbooks are aligned with the state standards,” said Hether Lytton, assistant principal for academics. “We use college prep standards, our freshmen and sophomores are preparing for Advanced Placement courses and even dual credit courses.”

       Lytton said the ISTEP results were quickly shared with the teaching staff at Andrean and “any gaps in learning” were identified to be addressed by the curriculum.

       Sophomores who are identified by their first-quarter grades and by their teachers as needing extra support “come in in the morning for tutoring,” added Lytton, and they have available USA Test Prep exams that they can practice with “as a supplement to the curriculum.”

       Another strategy that may help Andrean students excel in ISTEP is an option that allows schools to administer the tests to freshmen. “Our freshmen are enrolled in biology,” explained Lytton, and since that is what the science portion of ISTEP covers, “We have our freshmen take the science test while they are studying that subject and it is fresh in their minds.”

       To create optimum test-taking conditions, added Lytton, Andrean also makes use of the entire window of opportunity afforded by the state. “There are two parts to the test, one administered at the end of February into March and the other in mid-April, with three days allowed for each part,” she said. “You can give all three tests – math, English and science – in one day, but we use something I brought from my previous school, where we saw success by spreading out the tests over three days so the students are overloaded with tests.”

       Teachers are also asked “to go beyond just recall” in preparing course exams, which Lytton said prepares students for the ISTEP format. “There is a writing component to each ISTEP subject, and our students have done really well on that writing portion – we ask our teachers to include some form of writing on their tests, too.”

       With ISTEP being phased out by the state in favor of a new standardized test yet-to-be-determined, this year’s junior class is the last required to pass the current End-Of-Course Assessment administered in conjunction with ISTEP in order to graduate from high school. “We had a very small number who had to re-take the ECA,” said Lytton. Andrean students who don’t perform well on the ECA get added tutoring and their teachers are alerted to offer them extra academic support.

       Andrean had 132 students take ISTEP during the past academic year, and this year’s sophomores will take the test in two parts in early 2017. “Our next goal is to get those middle-level scores higher, not just the lower scores,” Lytton said. “We want to help all of our students succeed."

 

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Andrean High School senior Daniel Villapando listens to a lesson in teacher John Szot's U.S. Government class at the Merrillville school on Dec. 19. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)

 

 

Andrean 9

 

Andrean High School sophomore Chris Van Eekeren is picured in the computer lab at the Merrillville school's library on Dec. 19. Andrean students, administrators and teachers continue to work at maintaining the school's four-star status, and top-in-the-region ISTEP scores. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)

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