The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) Wednesday released results from the 2021-2022 Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination (IREAD-3) assessment. The Indiana Department of Education says the assessment shows, “that nearly one in five Hoosier students have not mastered foundational reading skills by the end of third grade.”

“We know that students first learn to read, and then they read to learn,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “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.” 

Statewide, results show that more than 65,000 of Indiana’s third grade students – or 81.6% – demonstrated proficient reading skills on the assessment. 

The ISDOE said in their press release, “This is a modest improvement of 0.4 percentage points over results for the 2020-2021 school year. Overall, results remain 5.7 percentage points below pre-pandemic proficiency rates from the 2018-2019 school year, the last data set available prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“While some student populations experienced a significant improvement in reading skills, other student populations will need renewed, intentional support to become strong readers. In total, more than 14,000 third grade students – or 18.4% – will need additional support to build their reading skills to meet grade-level reading standards. Reading proficiency declined overall for third grade students receiving free or reduced-price meals, special education students and English learners. Despite Black and Hispanic students experiencing a 2.1 percentage point and 1 percentage point increase respectively, their proficiency rates remain significantly below their grade level peers,” the ISDOE said.

For the first time, schools were also provided an opportunity to have their second grade students participate in the IREAD-3 assessment, with the goal of gaining an earlier indicator of whether students are on track as they learn how to read. Statewide, nearly 400 elementary schools across the state opted in, with more than 20,000 second grade students participating. Of those second grade students, 62% either passed the assessment or are on track to pass next year.

As a new school year begins, the IDOE said that “innovative efforts must continue in collaboration with schools across the state to make sure that all students become strong readers. This includes the launch of a new instructional coaching program for kindergarten through second grade teachers to help them integrate the proven teaching strategies within the Science of Reading into their classrooms. Statewide, 54 schools are participating in the program.”

The IDOE says it will announce additional information regarding new literacy-focused support for Indiana schools and students in the coming weeks.