Carmel Clay Schools administrators cite excellent teaching, supportive parents, hard working students and the district’s emphasis on academic rigor for outstanding 2008 ISTEP scores, which include gains in specific areas and a jump in the number of student scoring at the pass plus level.

The Indiana Department of Education released 2008 ISTEP scores for grades 3-10 on Dec. 4.

Administrators noted gains in the district’s pass plus rate in math. Pass plus is a category determined by the Indiana Department of Education for students who achieve exemplary results in specific test subjects. In the seventh grade math test, 97percent of Carmel Clay students passed, with 53 percent earning pass plus. Math scores in third grade included a 92 percent pass rate, the highest for that grade level since 2002.

Certain grade levels also saw an increase in language arts scores. Across the state, pass plus rates are usually lower for language arts than for math. In Carmel Clay, 23 percent of fifth graders in the district’s 11 elementary schools scored at the pass plus level. In fourth grade language arts, 94 percent passed the ISTEP, with one in four students scoring in the pass plus range.

At Carmel High School, 90 percent of the students passed both the math and language arts portion of the Graduation Qualifying Exam, which students must pass to graduate from high school. Ninety-four percent passed the math section, with 92 percent mastering the language arts portion.

Three years ago, the district, which already registered some of the highest test scores in the state and nation, instituted a strategic plan that encouraged middle and high school students to take more rigorous courses. The district also has maintained and made more demanding a gifted and talented program in all 11 elementary schools.

Last year, Carmel Clay put into place a balanced literary program that places a greater emphasis on teaching reading strategies not just in language arts, but in every subject from kindergarten through the senior year in high school. Intensive writing is an expectation in every class.