03/21/12 Third grade students all over the State of Indiana were faced with a high stakes IREAD 3 test this week. The testing window set by the IDOE (Indiana Department of Education) extended from March 19-21. Students will be clicking a computer mouse to submit their answers.
In 2010, the Indiana House of Representatives approved legislation requiring the IDOE to develop a plan to improve reading skills of students and implement appropriate remediation techniques. Those students not passing the IREAD 3 (Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination) will not be promoted to fourth grade. However, students will have a second chance to retest during the summer from June 25-July 27. The earliest that schools can retest would be online starting on June 13..
The test is divided into three sessions that total 72 minutes (including teacher directions) and includes multiple choice questions covering word meanings, letter sounds, context and comprehension. During the first 20 minute session, teachers read questions to students and the remaining two sessions require students to read and answer questions. According to Randy Roemer, assistant principal of LaVille Elementary, coordinators (certified teachers or administrators) of the tests took online webinar training to administer the testing.
According to the IDOE, the scoring on the test should be made available to school districts by the beginning of April.
Roemer said he was pleased that all of the approximately 90 third graders in LaVille were in school on Tuesday when the test was given.
Administrators in the Plymouth School Corporation have scheduled elementary level summer school for the two weeks after the end of the regular school year. According to Menominee Elementary Principal , Michael Dunn, the ongoing goal has been to identify reading problems as early as possible. He said, “We actually strive to provide interventions before students reach third grade.” He said, “We focus on and offer extra interventions as early as kindergarten and first grade when we detect problems.” He said, “We continue to look a little deeper for a learning problem.”
Dunn said they began informing parents and guardians of the new test requirements at the end of the last school year, the beginning of school this year, during a Title I night in February, and again just before the testing period.
Opponents of the requirement of retention for those failing the test say they are concerned that it puts too much pressure on young children. On the other hand, advocates say it’s a way to make sure students receive the extra help they need to master reading skills.
Concessions within the requirements do allow school districts to promote a student to fourth grade, but the state will list them as third graders. All reading instruction for those promoted despite failing the IREAD 3 test must be presented at the third grade level. Children would still need to take the ISTEP+ and the IREAD 3 test again. Roemer said, “Placement must be determined by a committee from the school district.” Romer said, “Just because a child has an I.E.P. (Individualized Educational Plan) does not mean that they cannot be retained.” Romer added, “We can be very creative in deciding whether to promote or retain. It could be that a child is very proficient in math or other subjects, but not in reading.”
The only students exempt from the requirement of retention include those identified as special needs, non-English speaking and students who have already been retained two times-the maximum retention that Indiana State laws allows.
Research shows that third grade is a pivotal year in terms of reading since students “learn to read” through third grade and then change to “reading to learn” starting in fourth grade. Schools are required to provide extra instruction for students who do not pass the IREAD 3 test.
Educators and parents also have different opinions on whether the social stigma of being retained can adversely affect a child. Others are more cautious about just passing kids on even if they lack specific skills. Dunn said, “We’ve always strived not to do social promotion, but we understand the role that maturity and social development plays in a child’s life.”
IDOE Literacy Specialist, Anna Shults said, “The chance for academic success later on is greatly affected by a child’s ability to read.”
Romer said, “This test places accountability on all ends.”
Webster and Jefferson third graders tested on Tuesday and Menominee and Washington third graders will test Wednesday.
Carol Anders Correspondent