IREAD scores still down from pre-pandemic

New IREAD-3 results show that while statewide passing rates have improved marginally over 2021, about 1 out of 5 third graders in Indiana are still falling short of literacy standards.

The Indiana Department of Education reported that 81.6% of Indiana third graders passed the exam this year, compared to 81.2% in 2021 and 87.3% in 2019. The test was not administered in 2020.

At a local level, 80.4% of Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. third graders passed IREAD in 2022, compared to 82.3% in 2021 and 86.5% in 2019. For the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp., 89.7% passed, compared to 86.8% in 2021 and 94.1% in 2019.

BCSC Director of Elementary Education Laura Hack said that reading is “the core of the work our elementary students focus on daily.”

“One way that these foundational skills are assessed is through the state mandated IREAD test,” she said. “This one-time score is compiled with many other scores to best understand the whole child on their reading journey. To compare one year’s cohort group with another year’s cohort group does not paint an accurate picture for the child, the classroom, or the school. Each school year provides a different set of students with strengths and opportunities for improvement. Every child, and classroom, has a story of how far they have come while learning in our BCSC schools.”

IREAD performance varied significantly between the district’s elementary schools. The passing rates of Clifty Creek, Mt. Healthy, Richards, Smith, CSA Fodrea and Taylorsville have declined since 2019. Smith showed one of the biggest drops, falling from 89.4% in 2019 to 77% in 2021 and 71.6% in 2022.

CSA Lincoln, on the other hand, had about 96% in both 2021 and 2022, which was up from 2019’s rate of 92.3%. Parkside showed significant improvement, moving from 77.2% in 2019 to 88.0% in 2022. Scores for Rockcreek, Schmitt and Southside were down in 2021 but rebounded in 2022.

Rates also varied between different demographics. Within BCSC, most ethnicities’ proficiency rates have declined since 2019 — with the exception of Asian students, who have held steady around 89% to 91% for all three test years. About 83% of white students passed IREAD in 2022, compared to 88.7% in 2019. For Hispanic students, rates were 69.8% in 2022 and 78.1% in 2019.

For both Black and multiracial students within the school corporation, passing rates increased in 2021 but fell significantly in 2022. About 74% of Black students passed in 2022, compared to 83% in 2021 and 75% in 2019. About 81.4% of multiracial students passed in 2022, compared to 91.2% in 2021 and 88.9% in 2019.

English Language Learners (ELL) showed a similar trend — 74.4% in 2019, 78.2% in 2021 and 71.2% in 2022. About 82% to 83% of Non ELL students passed in 2021 and 2022, compared to 89.5% in 2019.

Both students with paid meals and those marked as free/reduced showed declining scores from 2019 to 2022. However, the decrease was larger for the free and reduced meal group, with 10 percentage point drop (from 83.4% down to 72.9%) in that time, compared to a 5 percentage point drop for students on paid meals (91.1% down to 86.5%).

Lynn Schemel, director of assessment for the Department of Education, said that more than 14,000 Indiana students didn’t pass IREAD.

“Students who are poor readers at the end of third grade are likely to remain poor readers throughout their life,” Schemel said. “They even are less likely to graduate on time or may never receive their high school diploma.”

“We know that students first learn to read, and then they read to learn,” said Katie Jenner, Indiana secretary of education, in an official statement. “Data shows a direct link between reading by the end of third grade and future learning. As many students continue to recover from the academic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, specific student populations — including our low income, Black, Hispanic, special education and English learner students — had persistent learning gaps even prior to the pandemic. That’s why it’s so important that educators, families and communities continue to come together to lead innovative, intentional efforts to make sure all students are able to read.”

One way the Department of Education seeks to further this goal is through the recent launch of a new instructional coaching program to help kindergarten through second grade teachers integrate “Science of Reading” strategies into their classrooms. There are 54 schools across the state participating in the initiative, including Hope Elementary School.