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Customer Story - Jay School Corporation, Portland, Indiana

Jay School Corporation Improves ISTEP+ Performance and Makes Exemplary Progress

Jay School Corporation uses Acuity® from CTB to inform instructional decisions, improve student learning, and increase accountability. With accurate, reliable data from the Acuity InFormative Assessment™ solution, the district improved student performance on the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress Plus (ISTEP+) and the ISTEP+ End-of-Course Assessments (ECAs), and received an "A"/Exemplary ranking from the state of Indiana.


  • Lack of consistent data tracking students’ progress toward state standards
  • Lack of predictive assessment data

Located in east central Indiana, Jay School Corporation enrolls approximately 3,300 students across seven elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. While the rural district regularly administered assessments to measure students' educational progress, administrators and teachers were not getting the quality of data they needed to make informed instructional decisions.

"We were using an assessment product that had a test bank only. It was not getting the job done," said Superintendent of Jay School Corporation Tim Long, Ed.D.

In 2010, the district set out to find a program that would allow it to create a systematic process to support strong student performance.

"For a district administrator, student performance is vitally important," said Long. "You start with a vision of how you want your students to perform and then design a plan to make that vision a reality. Acuity has been instrumental in helping our schools achieve the student success we desire."

Solution: Acuity

Jay School Corporation began using Acuity in fall 2010. Designed by CTB in collaboration with educators nationwide, Acuity is a unique integration of predictive and diagnostic assessments, reports, instructional resources, item banks, and item authoring—all aligned to state standards and designed to improve student achievement.

"Acuity is the best diagnostic and predictive testing program we have ever seen," said Long. "It has been embraced by our staff and it has improved our test scores. Quite simply, it works!"

All students in Grades 3–8 participate in the Acuity Predictive and Diagnostic Assessments in English language arts, math, science, and social studies. All algebra students at the middle and high school levels also utilize Acuity solutions.

"Acuity is easy to use and our students like it," said Long. "I've never seen a program take off like this one has."

Predictive and Diagnostic Assessments

The Acuity Predictive Assessments provide immediate information about student progress and growth, and allow educators to predict student performance on the ISTEP+. This information helps teachers prioritize their instruction and concentrate efforts where students most need intervention.

"Acuity is totally aligned to our state standards. It also mirrors our state test in format and content coverage," said Long.

Between the predictive assessments, which are given every two months, teachers administer the Acuity Diagnostic Assessments. With each of the four pre-built diagnostic assessments, teachers can quickly diagnose each student's strengths and needs, and focus their instruction on the standards students have yet to master.

"The assessments give teachers a clear understanding of where their students are in relation to our state standards," said Long. "From one assessment to the next, teachers can actually see students' growth."

Instructional Resources and Custom Assessments

To help teachers intervene early and effectively, Acuity allows teachers to automatically assign interactive practice activities directly from the assessment reports. In addition, teachers can choose to use the Acuity item bank and item authoring tools to develop custom assessments to monitor student progress between the predictive and diagnostic assessments.

"Our goal is to streamline the process and make things very 'user-friendly' for our staff. We make these tools available to teachers to help them monitor student progress and tailor instruction to meet our students' needs,"said Long.


Acuity features dozens of reports at the student, class, school, and district levels to allow educators to measure student progress and growth throughout the school year.

"Not only do students like Acuity, but teachers and administrators find it to be very useful in meeting their needs," said Long. "Thanks to the Acuity data, our conversations in the district now focus on student performance and growth, rather than minutiae that may or may not impact student learning. With Acuity, student performance drives instruction."

According to Long, teachers like having the ability to drill down into the Acuity data to determine how they can improve teaching and learning in their classrooms. "If the data show that 99 percent of the class has mastered a specific standard, the teacher can move on to the next standard or spend more time on an area where students need more support," he said. "Teachers can also drill down to the individual level to target instruction and interventions. For example, on the Acuity Reports, teachers often look for two or three things they can do to move a student from achieving a predictor score of 'Not Pass' to a 'Pass,' or from a 'Pass' to 'Pass Plus,' which is the highest ranking on the ISTEP+."

Throughout the school year, teachers post Acuity Assessment results on data walls to chart student progress and guide their instruction. "These data bring into focus what we need to work on as a school, at each grade level, and in individual classrooms," said Long. "In Indiana, we use a growth model to evaluate student performance, so teachers need to be cognizant of how individual students are performing to ensure each student achieves academic growth."

In addition, Acuity helps administrators define academic priorities to help all students achieve success. "The Acuity reporting is very easy to understand. We can view teacher, school, and district results in each of the four major curricular areas. This gives us good baseline data and helps us level the playing field, so all seven of our elementary schools can build on and expand their successes," said Long.


  • Improved ISTEP+ and ECA performance
  • "A"/Exemplary state ranking

Since Acuity was implemented in 2010, students have achieved measurable gains on state accountability exams. In 2011, as part of Indiana's comprehensive accountability system for K–12 education, Jay School Corporation received an "A" or "Exemplary" ranking—the state's highest rating—based on student performance and improvement data from the ISTEP+ and ECAs.

"This year our district was an 'A'-rated Exemplary district. I attribute that to good teaching and to the Acuity system," said Long. "Our goal is always to improve. This past year, overall, we had the highest test scores in the history of the ISTEP+ program for Jay School Corporation—and our algebra ECA gains were unbelievable. That’s proof we’re heading in the right direction."

Jay School Corporation

Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress Plus (ISTEP+) Total Pass % (Pass and Pass+)

Both ELA and Math71.5%72.6%

ISTEP+ 2011

Total Pass % (Pass and Pass+)

YearGradeBoth ELA and MathELAMathScienceSocial Studies
2010576.0%81.0%85.0% 66.0%
2011579.9%82.8%92.6% 75.2%
2010767.0%74.0%81.0% 68.0%
2011767.6%70.3%81.1% 72.7%

ISTEP+ End-of-Course Assessment (ECA) – Algebra 1

Total Pass %


"One of the main benefits of Acuity is that it's helped us change our culture. We now speak a language of accountability. We have a clear vision and clear goals for student performance, and we can chart our progress toward reaching those goals," said Long. "I also appreciate the support we've received from CTB. I've been an educator for 30 years and Acuity is the best program I've seen. It can improve performance, accountability, and the culture of a school district. We firmly believe in data-driven instruction and, thanks to Acuity, we now live it."

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