Celebrating a 62% pass rate is not something we would normally do in Plainfield, but when that number earns you the ranking of the seventh-best school district in the state, and fifth-best public school system statewide, it does merit at least a passing mention, and a deeper explanation.
This spring, Indiana students took the first ILEARN assessment, which replaced the previous ISTEP and ISTEP+, neither of which were considered a successful measure of knowledge. Many would argue that ILEARN isn’t much of an improvement.
The ILEARN test was designed to be more rigorous, specifically measuring whether or not students are progressing towards graduating from high school prepared for college or a career that will lead to independence. This approach is completely in line with our own focus on college and career readiness, and in fact, we have many programs in place, from elementary to middle and high school, that support the concept.
Plainfield’s pass rate means that 61.9% of our students, grades 3-8, are considered “on track” to graduate from high school with enough knowledge to enter college or a career based on their Math and English scores. The statewide number for passing both portions of the test was 37.1%, compared to 50.7 % who passed both portions of the ISTEP+ a year ago.
Not surprisingly, most education professionals take significant issue with the ILEARN assessment. In Plainfield, we certainly do not believe that our students, or their teachers, suddenly stopped learning (or teaching).
It would appear that Indiana legislators will debate the merits of the ILEARN assessment and how to move forward. In the meantime, we will continue doing what we know to be the right approach: preparing Plainfield students to become successful adults, whether that path leads them to a variety of college programs, or the military, or a job.
Through internship programs, Project Lead the Way courses, remedial instruction when it’s needed, exceptional opportunities in what used to be known as vocational education, and exposure to college and career experiences at the elementary and middle school levels, we are confident in the skills our students take with them upon graduation.
One more thing. We understand and support the logic behind testing. There is no question that we need to hold students, teachers and administrators accountable for student growth. But if children don’t enjoy the process, how much will they learn? So while we take learning very seriously, and we celebrate successes (including state rankings that consistently reinforce that we are doing a great job educating the children of Plainfield), we believe that first and foremost, it’s our job to “bring joy to learning.”