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Indiana third grade reading scores stay flat overall, drop for English learners

Several desks are in a classroom with laptops open on them, and no students are present.

Reading proficiency rates on Indiana’s IREAD test for third graders this year showed significant gaps between student groups, although there were gains among students of color.

Laura Faith Kebede / Chalkbeat

Just under 82% of Indiana’s third graders passed the statewide reading assessment in 2022, an improvement of less than half a percentage point over last year, according to data released Wednesday by the Indiana Department of Education.

Disaggregated by ethnicity and socioeconomic and special education status, most student groups showed incremental improvement on the Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination test — known as IREAD — though none have recovered to their pre-pandemic proficiency rates.

However, the share of English language learner students who passed the test declined by 8.5 percentage points from last year, putting their proficiency below their level from the 2017-18 school year. 

The state had raised concerns about English learners last month, when it released a study showing the group was performing below its peers.

This year’s IREAD results also show English learner students performing 20 percentage points below their non-English learner peers — a gap that has doubled since last year.  

“We absolutely need to double down and make sure they have all the supports needed to read,” said Secretary of Education Katie Jenner, referring to English learners.

Third grade reading scores are often used as an early indicator of future academic success, including graduation.

Proficiency rates also remained unequal for other student groups, despite gains among students of color. 

American Indian students had the greatest improvement in scores, moving up 6 percentage points to an 81.5% proficiency rate this year. 

Black students’ proficiency rates increased 2 percentage points to 64%, while Asian and Hispanic students’ rates each increased 1 percentage point to around 85% and 70% proficient, respectively. 

White students’ proficiency rates, meanwhile, remained flat at 87.5%.

The proficiency rate for students with disabilities increased just under half a percentage point, but at 53%, it was 35 percentage points below the rate for students without disabilities. 

Indianapolis Public Schools posted a 63% proficiency rate this year — an increase of around 3 percentage points over last year, but below its pre-pandemic proficiency rate of 71%.

For the first time, some second graders also took the reading test this year, and 44% passed. Those who passed won’t have to take the IREAD again as third graders. 

This story has been updated.

Aleksandra Appleton covers Indiana education policy and writes about K-12 schools across the state. Contact her at aappleton@chalkbeat.org.

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