GAUGING GRADES: County students register above state-average ILEARN scores


Students from Harris Elementary and Greenfield Intermediate schools head for their buses after class in January.

Daily Reporter file photo

HANCOCK COUNTY — Results are in from the spring 2022 Indiana Learning Evaluation and Readiness Network (ILEARN) assessment. Due to COVID, county officials say the numbers for proficiency in passing both English/language art and math are solid, but not as high as they would like.

Still, the county proficiency numbers for students in 3rd through 8th grade are well above the state average of 30.2% for passing both English/language arts and math. One county district, Southern Hancock, tested as the 25th highest school corporation when it comes to proficiency in passing both subjects while Greenfield-Central’s Eden Elementary tested the highest in the state with a 95% proficiency rate in math.

This year, more than 99% of students in grades 3 through 8 statewide participated in the ILEARN assessment, which were all conducted in person. State officials say the results show most grade levels and student populations increased their proficiency rates in English/language arts and in math by one to four percentage points compared to 2021.

Statewide, 41.2% of Indiana’s students are at or above proficiency standards in English/language arts while 39.4% of students are at or above proficiency standards in math. The numbers however dip when passing both subjects. Still, state officials say the numbers indicate Indiana’s rate of student learning is increasing. However, officials say many students have not caught up to where their learning should be due to the pandemic.

Locally, 46.5% of 3rd through 8th grade students in the Southern Hancock School District tested proficient in both English/language arts and math; 36.1% of students in Mt. Vernon Community schools tested proficient in both; 35.5% of Eastern Hancock students tested proficient in both while 35.0% of Greenfield-Central students tested proficient in both subjects.

Southern Hancock superintendent Lisa Lantrip credited district teachers, who she said worked diligently to keep students engaged and learning throughout the pandemic.

“These results are a testament to their resiliency and determination,” Lantrip said. “As always, we are pleased, but never satisfied.”

Lantrip noted ILEARN results provide teachers with significant data to analyze trends and patterns in how they teach state standards. She added the early release of the results permits their staff to review the data and make adjustments to their curriculum with the start of the new school year only weeks away.

Greenfield-Central superintendent Harold Olin said district officials were “ecstatic” to learn Eden Elementary School is leading the state in mathematics performance with the 95% mark after 38 of 40 students at that school passed the test.

“When you see this in back-to-back years, it is a strong indication that we have been doing a good job of establishing a strong foundation in our students,” Olin said. “It is not an anomaly when it happens repeatedly.”

When Olin reviewed all the scores for all grades tested, he was pleased to see growth at virtually all grade levels in both ELA and math.

“We are certainly not content with where our scores are,” he said. “In fact, I would say we are disappointed in the passing rates.”

However, he noted G-C students have not had a normal school year in any of the past three school years, and the pandemic created some learning gaps that will not be overcome in a short period of time. He stated that fortunately it is a 13-year marathon and not a one-year sprint for students.

“We are going to continue to meet our students where they are, and we are going to move them toward mastery through solid initial instruction and targeted interventions for the students who need it,” Olin said. “All things considered, I am proud of the effort of our students and staff. We’ve taken some positive strides, yet we still have a ways to go.”

Eastern Hancock superintendent George Philhower said while the scores for his district are above state average, they are not as high as they’d like. He said his staff plans to delve deeper into the scores to find out where students are struggling.

“We’re always expecting to have great scores in Eastern Hancock, but we’re still adjusting after COVID to figure out what these scores mean,” Philhower said. “We switched to ILEARN right before COVID, so we’re kind of still in the middle of figuring out all of that.”

Philhower reminded the Daily Reporter the definition for success of students goes much deeper than the state test scores reflecting the results from the one-day test.

Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation’s 36.1% ILEARN proficiency in English/language arts and math combined is up from the previous school year’s 30.8%. Mt. Vernon Middle School, Mt. Comfort Elementary School and McCordsville Elementary School all saw increases over 2021 while Fortville Elementary School had a slight dip.

Mt. Vernon Superintendent Jack Parker attributed the improvements to more students being able to be in school engaged in in-person learning during the 2021-22 academic year compared to 2020-21.

“That’s what we fought for all year long, and we know that’s what’s best for kids,” Parker said. “It has to start with that, it really does.”

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations dropped in February, the state eased requirements and recommendations on responding to the virus, including measures regarding masks and quarantining.

“I think the control measures being lifted toward the last third of the year was a huge boost to our ability to keep kids in school,” Parker said.

He added that while the school corporation is pleased with its ILEARN results, there’s still plenty of work to do.

“Of course we have a growth mindset and want to continually be better each and every year, he said. “Those standardized assessments are just one piece of the puzzle.”

Parker said Mt. Vernon is building corporation-wide assessments based on curriculum teachers and administrators design as well.

Scott Shipley, director of curriculum and instruction for Mt. Vernon, is one of the leaders involved in those efforts.

“We’re just very, very intentional about everything that we’re doing to try to get all students to learn at high levels and to have that individual growth, and that’s building the capacity of our teachers, and each other, and learning from each other, and being a true professional learning community,” Shipley said. “I think our intentionality is really a backbone for what we’re doing.”

Reporters Mitch Kirk and Shelley Swift contributed to this report.