Anderson community schools began using the program in August and plans to introduce it to seventh- and eighth-grade students in the 2014-2015 school year, said Ryan Glaze, director of curriculum.
"Pearson talked about students increasing their reading proficiency by two years, and we've had students who have done that and more," he said. "We've been vary pleased."
Currently in Indiana, reading proficiency is only assessed in the third grade when students take the IREAD-3 test. While the test scores of children in Madison County have generally improved over the past several years, reading at grade level remains a stubborn problem, not just here, but throughout Indiana and the nation.
According to new research from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 80 percent of lower-income fourth graders and 66 percent of all kids are not reading proficiently — a key predictor of a student's future educational and economic success. In Indiana, 62 percent of all fourth graders are not reading a grade level.
If that trend continues, the country won't have enough skilled workers for an increasingly competitive global economy by the end of this decade, according to the foundation.
"Of even greater concern is that the gap between students from higher- and lower-income families is growing wider, with 17 percent improvement seen among the former group compared to only 6 percent improvement among their lower-income peers," states the "Early Reading Proficiency in the United States" report.
"It's rather scary when you look at the number of students who are reading on grade level," Glaze said. "It does make us know why our (test) scores are not as good as we'd like them to be."According to Ritz, any assessment is first and foremost a test of reading ability.
"We only collect one data point now, that's in the third grade IREAD (test), and it's pass/fail," Ritz said. "It doesn't tell us where our kids are performing."