State determines if a child should be held back

PLYMOUTH — The debate on whether holding a student back a grade in school is more detrimental or beneficial has been going on for as long there have been schools, parents and students. But now, the decision to retain students in third grade who have not achieved a third grade reading level is being taken out of the hands of both local schools and parents.

The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) is launching the I-READ 3 (Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination) assessment during the spring 2012 test window, which is March 19-21, 2012.

If they fail, students cannot be promoted to fourth grade; however, there are some exceptions. If a child was retained two times before, has a current IEP (Individual Education Plan) and receives special education services, or is an (ELL) English Language Learner (ELL) student with an (ILP (Individualized Learning Plan), they can be promoted.

Dr. Michele A. Walker, IDOE director office of student assessment, explained that the test stems from legislation passed by the State.

She said, “As you may know, in March of 2010 the Indiana General Assembly passed Public Law 109 requiring the evaluation of reading skills for all third grade students. This legislation was developed to ensure students can read at grade level prior to fourth grade.”

Walker added, “As many researchers and educators have noted, from kindergarten through grade three, students are primarily “learning to read.”

But beginning in fourth grade, students must be able to “read to learn.”

Michael Dunn, Menominee Elementary School principal said, “Plymouth Elementary Schools have been working hard for the past several years in creating a sound reading program. We have been incorporating what the IDOE sees as successful strategies for teaching reading.”

Among those strategies are requiring at least 90 minutes of uninterrupted reading instruction each day, which may include small group instruction, more frequent progress monitoring, and proving daily targeted intervention, in addition to the 90 minutes of reading.

Each of the four elementary schools in the Plymouth Community Schools system recently received a grade from the IDOE of “A” (out of a scale A-F).

Dunn said, “We feel confident that we will be able to meet the goal of this new test.”

Plymouth was a part of the pilot test for I-READ 3 last school year at the request of the IDOE.  
Those wishing to see a sample of the test format or find suggestions for parents who may want to confer with their child’s teacher should visit the IDOE website www.doe.in.gov/assessment/iread-resources.html.
Parents/guardians may also request a copy of the document from their child’s school. The Plymouth Community Schools are already planning to send the document home with all current third graders.

Plymouth Schools Superintendent Dan Tyree said, “Plymouth elementary schools have made reading a priority for the last eight years. Using the services of Title I teachers and the partnership we form with parents, our teachers believe that nearly all of our students will pass.”

Tyree believes that reading skills are fundamental for today’s students. He said,” Reading is very important to a child’s education and career. I believe this law was put in place of schools that have refused to make reading a priority. This could be a wake-up call for a lot of schools, parents, and teachers. I have total faith in our elementary reading program.”