After meeting with dozens of teachers across Southern Indiana in the last year, the first bill I decided to author as a state senator works to move Indiana’s I-READ reading assessment from third grade to second grade. My legislation, Senate Bill 169, requires students who do not pass the I-READ reading assessment in second grade to retake the test during the third grade, which allows for more time and opportunity to strengthen reading abilities.
This is an idea that came directly from teachers I met by participating in meetings with educators to discuss ways to improve education policy for teachers and students. During these meetings, concerns were raised about the amount of time spent on testing, particularly in the third grade.
Teachers suggested this move to second grade because ISTEP, I-READ, Acuity and other local tests are given in third grade. My bill to move the reading assessment from third grade to second grade would rebalance instruction time for third-grade students and teachers.
In addition, SB 169 addresses the importance of catching reading deficiencies early so that issues can be promptly addressed. The change would allow an additional year for remediation. My proposal recommends students who fail at the end of grade two be remediated during the third grade and retested at the end of that school year, at which point failure would require retention.
Currently, third-grade students who do not pass the I-READ reading assessment are remediated and retested between March and the end of the school year, and in some cases in summer school, when available. If the student doesn’t pass, they must be retained in grade three.
If the I-READ reading assessment shifts to the second grade, it would remove the “high-stakes” pressure for most students by not requiring retention for those that fail in the second grade. Instead, the focus will be on remediation.
Earlier this month, SB 169 received a hearing in the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development. There was meaningful discussion by legislators and valuable testimony from the public. As a result, the bill was amended to recommend the issue be further examined in a legislative study committee. The amended bill will now go to the full Senate for further consideration.
Enacting my bill will allow lawmakers, educators and affected families to continue working to find the right policies regarding reading proficiency in Indiana schools. I continue to believe that our elementary school students would be better served by assessing reading proficiencies in second grade. In doing so, we can ensure students have obtained the basic foundational phonics skills to improve future educational outcomes. I welcome the opportunity to further explore the merits of this proposal in a legislative study committee.
To track the progress of SB 169, visit www.in.gov/iga.