Indian River students rates among the state's best

Improvements and accomplishments in the reading and math portions of the Delaware Student Testing Program (DSTP) highlighted Indian River School District’s 2006 scores, which were released July 20. Despite the fact that more than 40 percent of district students are on free or reduced lunch programs, reflecting their families’ low income, Indian River has once again established itself as state-testing powerhouse.

“I am pretty happy,” said Dr. Susan Bunting, Indian River School District’s new superintendent. “We are pleased, but we still have work to do. We certainly would like to continue to see improvement. I give the staff and the students a lot of credit.”

According to a district release, Indian River third-graders ranked first in the state in reading with at least one school improving dramatically. Some 85 percent of Phillip C. Showell’s third-graders met the standard on the reading test, as compared to only 61 percent last year.

“We were very pleased at the gains that our students showed in some areas,” said Ivan Neal, Phillip C. Showell’s principal. “We feel like, overall, our students showed some progress. We were pleased with that.”

At Frankford Elementary, where almost 75 percent of students are on free or reduced lunch, 98 percent of third-graders met or exceeded the standard on the reading test. More than 95 percent of its fifth-graders met or exceeded the standard on the reading test, as well.

More than 92 percent of Frankford’s third-graders met or exceeded the standard on the math test and 91.2 percent of its fifth-graders did the same.

“We were pretty pleased with how our students did,” said Duncan Smith, Frankford Elementary principal. “For the last eight or nine years, our school has shown steady growth … to the point where we’ve been able to maintain 90 percent of our students passing the test in reading and math.”

And other district schools — and students — were not to be left out.

Southern Delaware School of the Arts (SDSA) had 98 percent of its fifth graders meet the standard in the math test. Lord Baltimore achieved that same percentile.

And at the eighth and 10th-grade levels, which have perennially “lagged” behind their younger counterparts, students began to close the gap. District students improved a percentage point in the reading portion of the test, and SDSA eighth graders ranked second in the state in all three portions: reading, writing and math. In reading at the 10th grade level, 72 percent of Indian River students met the standard, as opposed to only 68 percent last year.

“Since the beginning of state testing in 200?, scores at the eighth- and 10th-grade levels have consistently lagged behind those of elementary schools,” Bunting said. “However that gap has begun to close in recent years thanks to the commitment and dedication of our secondary school teachers and staff.”

Read more about the testing in next week’s Coastal Point.