Kokomo — Teachers say children learn to read from kindergarten through third grade, then read to learn through the rest of their academic careers.
Indiana’s Legislature recognized the importance of reading skills in this session, passing a law requiring that children who are not reading at third-grade level be retained in third grade, starting with the 2011-2012 school year. Ability to read at that grade level will be determined by a reading test in development by the Indiana Department of Education. Students who fail the test can try again after summer school, and go to fourth grade if they pass.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said Indiana currently ranks 27th nationwide in fourth-grade reading achievement, and “it is our hope this new reading plan will assist Indiana students in moving toward the head of the pack.”
The new rules include Indiana’s K-6 reading framework, which provides research-based guidance on components of effective reading instruction. Schools with less than a 90 percent passing rate on IREAD-3, the new ISTEP reading exam, must implement the framework and adopt a scientifically based core reading program. Each Indiana elementary school with grades K-3, including charter schools, will also be required to submit an annual reading plan to the department of education, including measurable student achievement goals for each grade level, an assessment plan and intervention for struggling students.
The effort to get every student to pass means more testing more often, and reams of data available on every child’s ability and needs. Schools have put up data walls, with details of every child’s progress to goal. Many Kokomo area schools are using Acuity and DIBELS reading assessments and using the Accelerated Reader program, in which students read at their level and take computerized reading comprehension tests.
Principals and reading teachers say early intervention with struggling readers will be key to having them at third-grade level by the end of third grade.