Parents, school board react to ISTEP scores


Fewer students in South Bend are passing the ISTEP test compared to the state-wide average.

"It's always disheartening to hear you didn't do as well on a test as you wanted to," said South Bend School Board President Michelle Engel. "But it is just one test."

Fifty-nine-percent of kids in South Bend passed the test compared to 74% of kids in the rest of the state.

The results have many local parents concerned. One mom says she wouldn't send her two boys anywhere but the South Bend schools.

"The world we live in is South Bend, Indiana and I wanted them to go to school with people that looked like South Bend, Indiana," said Kate Lee.

Lee says many kids struggle with the pressure of standardized tests.

"It's such high pressure and high stakes for the schools," said Lee. "But for some kids who are easily stressed, that just stresses them out."

Numbers revealed that South Bend did make a one-percentage-point gain in ISTEP scores from 2013 to 2014.

"We are still trending upwards in the past five years," said Engel.

Lee believes demographics play a huge role in the low number of kids passing the test.

"In South Bend, schools kids move a lot, some kids move school to school during the school year and it's tough on the kids because they have to acclimate themselves," said Lee.

Engel says it's unfair to compare results from South Bend to other cities or even the state average.

"If you look at the demographics of South Bend schools versus Mishawaka versus PHM, it's a different demographic," said Engel. "We have some challenges that other districts may not face; the numbers we face, English as a second language, special education, poverty in South Bend is greater."

Leaders at the meeting discussed changes to ISTEP tests for next year. They will likely include more technology and include a broader scope of knowledge.

"In life we all know there is not one right answer," said Lee. "These tests can only measure so much."