Goshen Schools addresses low ILEARN scores

·6 min read

Aug. 9—GOSHEN — The Goshen Community Schools Board of Trustees released the results of the ILEARN and IREAD scores for the 2021-2022 school year as compared to other Indiana districts.

Using the highest average, which was the eighth-grade assessment, they found that in English Language Arts, Goshen Community Schools' eighth-graders scored an average of 36.1% passing, whereas the state average was 43.6%.

GCS Associate Superintendent Alan Metcalfe told the board that in every grade, the district is within six points of the state average.

High points in the district's results were this year's incoming fourth-graders and seventh graders, which averaged two points from the average.

"Looking at those kids is like looking at apples to oranges, though," Metcalfe acknowledged. He added that the 2020-2021 cohort on their exam in the fourth grade, reached 35%, so there was growth. Similar growth came for the cohort in math where those same students saw growth allowing an additional five percentage points. The seventh-grade class, too, saw overall increases of 22.6% to 26.3%.

GCS Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction Tracey Noe explained that the district underwent a new reading program for the cohort and the results were most likely visible during the assessment.

Of the 2020-2021 cohort of third-graders, 31% passed the ELA test, while in the 2021-2022 cohort, 38.5% did.

Goshen Community Schools matched the trend at six percentage points below in most grades, except for last year's fifth- and sixth-graders who were almost 10 percentage points lower. In math, state proficiency lowered substantially, as in third grade the average was 51.9 and lowered to 29.8 by fourth grade.

Those passing math and ELA were also scored. The state average was 30.2, while Goshen Community Schools saw 25.4% passing, with the same grades scoring similar positives and negatives as the other testing parameters.

In Elkhart County, Baugo, Fairfield and Middlebury scored above the state average in ELA, with Fairfield scoring almost 55% and Baugo 51%. Goshen outperformed Concord and Elkhart districts.

They also analyzed the unique demographics of Goshen schools as compared to other similar districts in the state. GCS consists of about 32% English learners, and about 56% Hispanic, so they searched out districts with over 25% Hispanic or English learners, including Logansport, Frankfort, Seymour, West Noble, and North White in their survey. Of those Goshen scored much higher with those districts ranging from 26 to 31% passing as compared to Goshen's 36%.

In math, Baugo, Fairfield and Middlebury again scored above the state average, with Baugo at almost 60% passing, Fairfield at 51% and about Middlebury at 57%.

Demographically, West Noble had 36.9% passing in math, while Goshen was at 33.8%.

Baugo, Fairfield and Middlebury again scored above the state average of 30.2% for proficiencies in both ELA and math, while Elkhart scored 15%, Concord scored 21%, and Goshen scored 25.4%.

In both ELA and math, Nest Noble remained closest to Goshen's score with Goshen scoring 25.4% and West Noble about 23%. Metcalfe said school officials actually contacted West Noble to talk about combining their EL practices.

"I think about the teachers and the principals when they look at these scores. No one is satisfied with these," Metcalfe explained. "Don't ever think that we are happy with where we are because we can do better and we will continue to try and our teachers work hard every day to make that happen."

Noe explained that while the schools want to see growth, they want mostly to see consistency in the steps moving forward.

"We've been on a bit of a trajectory ..." Noe said. "We want consistency from the goals that we're setting to the structures that we're putting in place, to the teachers following our instructional maps to our adopted curriculum, all of that cadence of 'teach, assess, enrich or reteach,' every time we're in the classroom. ... We're just constantly working for that consistent trajectory of instruction, assessment and curriculum."

Last year, the district started a study on the science of reading with kindergarten, first- and second-grade teachers. Noe said it went well and this year they're adding the program to third- and fourth-grade classrooms. Next year, they'll begin with fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms.

"It's helped to broaden our teachers' understanding," she said. "Our teachers need to not just look at the numbers of who did pass and did not pass. They need to really look at the work that they are doing with our students."

Noe also attributed lowered scores in last year's fifth- and sixth-graders to the new building, which moved all teachers and students, and professionals to a new environment. She added that some numbers may also be a result of COVID isolation and virtual learning.

Other items to come before the board:

—The board recognized Tyra Marcum, senior, for earning All-State honors in softball. Marcum also broke Goshen High School's record for the highest batting average in a season at .586.

—The board also recognized 17 fourth-graders for their perfect IREAD scores as third-graders. Those students were Axle Klinge, Carly Trenshaw, Luke Yoder, Matthew DeMott, Henry Stump, Francisco Rodriguez, Erick Medina Lopez, Patrick Eikler, Owen Detweiler, Cyrus Bontrager, Maya Fowler, Paul Gwaltney, Isaac Horst, Jasmine Gillette, Olivia Hunsberger, Roselyn Perez-Chavez and Krystell Ramirez.

—GCS Chief Financial Officer Bob Evans presented the district's 2023 budget at the meeting. While not yet approved, the budget current features an education fund at $49,765,089, operating referendum budget at $4,358,240, debt service fund at $9,460,000, capital referendum fund at $4 million, and operations funds at $19,390,000. He added that the debt service fund is higher than last year's because of a late bond processed last year that's being paid off quickly. Evans reminded council members that the budget can be decreased, but after it is advertised, it cannot be increased, therefore, advertising is done higher. Evans said he anticipates a similar budget to last year's depending upon enrollment. Following approval at the Sept. 6 board meeting, the budget will be advertised. On Sept. 19, there will be a budget hearing and it's anticipated that the budget will be adopted on Oct. 10.

Dani Messick is the education and entertainment reporter for The Goshen News. She can be reached at dani.messick@goshennews.com or at 574-538-2065.