Snow days create ISTEP crunch

ANDERSON, Ind. (WISH) – Milissa Crum and her sixth graders at Highland Middle School in Anderson did something Monday they hadn’t done for months. They arrived on time for a full day of school.

“This is actually the first full Monday we’ve been here,” said Crum in between classes.

Monday was their first day back since before Christmas break.

So far, the extreme winter weather has forced Anderson schools to close eight days and operate on a 2-hour delay another seven. That’s about 70 hours of lost teaching time. And winter isn’t over yet.

“It has been a challenge knowing that that time has been taken away from us,” Crum said.

That’s especially so – considering just how important January and February are to making sure students are prepared for statewide I-STEP testing in March.

“Right now, we’re just really asking that our teachers use their time as wisely as possible and make sure we’re using every instructional minute that we have to get our students prepared,” said Highland Principal Kelly Durr.

That includes after-school intervention programs for students who need extra help.

“The biggest thing is – you have to really be focused on ‘where are my students needing to work most?’” Crum said.

And, of course, they aren’t alone. Schools across central Indiana are facing the same challenge – so much so that the Department of Education is now considering extending next month’s I-STEP testing window.

The department will present a set of extension options for the board of education to consider on Wednesday “due to unprecedented weather-related school delays and closings,” a memo for board members stated.

Administrators here aren’t waiting to find out what happens.

“Whatever decision they make, we’ll roll with it,” Durr said. “Right now, we’re preparing like they will make no adjustments to the schedule.”

“As a teacher,” Crum said, “you just have to be flexible and roll with the punches.”

And hope Spring comes early.

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