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Learning Curve

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Positive ISTEP+ news?

Fort Wayne Community Schools has scheduled a news conference for Thursday morning to announce 2010 ISTEP+ results. Superintendent Wendy Robinson hinted at Tuesday's special board meeting that the news is positive.

District officials were hopeful the addition of instructional coaches and interventionists this year would raise achievement. Improved scores will be a motivational boost for FWCS teachers in light of the district's economic challenges and the rash of lay-off notices.

But the real test is in state results overall. If scores improved dramatically across all Indiana schools, the results speak more to this year's ISTEP+ exam than to one district's performance.

School districts receive scores early to check for irregularities, which seem to occur routinely. Fort Wayne's initial results were reportedly missing scores because tests from two schools were sent to the wrong scoring center.

As always, the stakes are high on a process susceptible to error.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at