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New Indiana Senate bill might result in the retention of third graders in Monroe County



Monroe County, Indiana – Indiana Senate Bill 1, which would defer third graders who fail literacy testing or qualify for a “good cause” exception, was inspired by worries about third-grade literacy.

All students in the state, including those in Monroe County, may be subject to retention.

The statewide literacy testing, IREAD-3, had an average pass rate of 82.6% for the Monroe County Community School Corporation in 2023, according to the Department of Education’s EdData database. That means that 121 out of 735 children did not pass; 48 of those did not get an exemption, and 44 were still advanced to the fourth grade. The new proposal would preserve all 48.

Arlington Heights Elementary is the school in MCCSC with the lowest score. With 51 students taking the IREAD-3, 21 did not pass, yielding a 56.6% pass rate. Despite not being granted a “good cause” exemption, all nine of the pupils were advanced to fourth grade.

23 out of 33 pupils (69.7%) passed at Highland Park Elementary, the school with the second-lowest score. Even without an exception, these students received promotions.

The decision of whether or not to retain students is a difficult and frequently contentious one.

The nation is increasingly concerned about elementary reading proficiency, which is putting pressure on governments to modify their curricula and regulations to solve literacy concerns.

Cassidy Rockhill, the principal of Highland Park, stated that retention is rarely the best course of action. He believes that teaching pupils the same third-grade material will not be helpful if they require more support.

“Retention is a very complex issue,” Rockhill said. “That needs to be a conversation between the school and the family.”

Students at Highland Park learn to read by emphasizing fundamental abilities like phonics, phonics awareness, and listening comprehension. They also use fluid groups, in which children are divided into smaller groups according to the skills they require more assistance with.

Students who were promoted without passing IREAD-3 receive reading remediation appropriate for the third grade during this flexible group period, which Highland refers to as “Panda Time” after their mascot.

Regarding whether retention benefits or impedes pupils, numerous research have produced conflicting results. According to some, such as a 2017 study on public schools in Florida, it gives children an instant boost that wanes as they go through the educational system. Some analysts claim it’s less clear.

The chair of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education and parent of MCCSC, Keri Miksza, stated that she believes retention should be discussed rather than “double down on” at the state level. She mentioned further problems. They are unable to depend on state money for programs like summer school or to cover the costs of additional years of education for kept kids because it is not a year in which budgetary considerations may be made.

A bill that was passed last year also altered the requirements for teaching reading. The “science of reading” model, which places more emphasis on phonetics, vocabulary, and comprehension, is now required for curricula. However, SB 1 may suddenly alter those outcomes because schools haven’t had time to review the findings or prepare teachers.

“Legislators need to slow the roll on this because it’s children,” Miksza said.

The appropriations committee approved Senate Bill 1 during its meeting on Thursday at 9:00 a.m.




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