The reading exam that third graders have to pass to move on to fourth grade would be given to second graders instead if one lawmaker gets her way.

A bill from freshman Senator Erin Houchin (HOW-chin) (R, Salem) would move the IREAD assessment back to second grade starting next school year, and students initially would not be held back a grade if they did not pass the exam. “This came through conversations I had over the last year with teachers who were concerned about too much testing in third grade,” Houchin said.

2015 Houchin

In addition to IREAD, third grade students take ISTEP for the first time as well as acuity testing throughout the year in some districts to see how students are learning academic standards. “You are looking at roughly three weeks of teacher prep and student time outside of classroom instruction spent on testing.”

Houchin‘s bill will be presented to the Senate Education Committee at its meeting on Wednesday, and she says State Superintendent Glenda Ritz seemed open to the idea when Houchin spoke to her about it, though Ritz has long been an opponent of IREAD.

“I met with the superintendent last week…what she has told me and what I have heard from teachers is that IREAD is a second-grade level test, so there would be no problem in giving it to second graders,” Houchin said. Ritz‘s office did not comment when asked about the meeting with Houchin or the bill, but Ritz has previously criticized what she called the “high stakes” nature of IREAD and the policy of making students repeat third grade who didn‘t pass it.
Under Houchin‘s bill, second grade students who did not pass IREAD could still move on to third grade and would be given another chance to take the exam after getting remedial instruction.

Third-grade students who didn‘t pass IREAD the second time around would still be subject to retention. “This is an idea that came from teachers, and I have two principals from my district who will testify in favor of it. So far, the reception among educators to me has been positive.”

The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Pete Miller (R, Avon).