School’s out but it looks like it will be a critical time for reading remediation for many county students.
Most area districts saw drops in IREAD scores, the assessment used to measure reading in Indiana for students through the third grade. This was the second year for the test that helps determine if students can read proficiently and advance into the fourth grade.
But, for example, Anderson Community Schools’ overall pass rate dropped from 80 percent last year to 71 percent this year, with each of its schools dropping in percentage. Students are to be reassessed after receiving remediation or interventions. Those who do not pass the second time around are held back, though schools may have students who qualify for exemptions, such as those in special education or English as a Second Language.
The nearly uniform drop in scores is troubling, particularly in light of educators’ hopes that results would be more positive.
In mid-May, the state education superintendent, Glenda Ritz, was in Anderson voicing displeasure with IREAD. Ritz wants less state testing in classrooms, saying teachers may have a better personal assessment of their students’ skills. This is another battle between Ritz and her predecessor, Tony Bennett, who implemented IREAD. It also questions districts who have created reading programs that cater to passing certain grades including such curriculum objectives as scheduling a 90-minute reading block in the classroom.
Perhaps some districts were never on board with the concept, though it certainly seems plausible to most Hoosier parents that students — and teachers — be held accountable before jumping to the next grade.
There may indeed be too much emphasis on testing throughout Indiana’s education system. But when it comes to reading, parents expect teachers to back up their evaluations of student skills with documentation.
If IREAD is to change, there still needs to be a standardized assessment that relies on more than a teacher’s observation in a classroom.
In summary IREAD scores are troubling. Let's continue to make sure students are proficient in reading before advancing them.