Bloomington-based blogger Steve Hinnefeld at School Matters has an interesting post about questions being raised over the authority of the Indiana State Board of Education to adopt a rule requiring third-graders who don't pass the new IREAD-3 test to be held back.
The test was administered for the first time last month, with elementary school teachers reporting students shaken by the high-stakes test.
"Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, told School Matters that lawmakers clearly weren't saying kids should be held back on the basis of their performance on a single test," Hinnefeld writes. "The state superintendent and board of education essentially usurped what we said we wanted done as a legislature," he said. "They went beyond the intent of the legislation."
The Indiana Department of Education cites Public Law 109, created by House Enrolled Act 1367 in the 2010 session, as its authority in establishing the test and retention requirement.
Extensive research suggests that mandatory retention is detrimental to student achievement and success, but social promotion is a favorite target of school reformers and conservatives.
Steve Yager, superintendent of Southwest Allen County Schools, told Education Week recently that his district plans to follow the intent of the law.
Even if some SACS third-graders fail to pass, my guess is that the state won't seek to make an example out of a high-performing suburban district, particularly one that is home district to the Senate president pro tem. Look for full enforcement of the new rules to fall on an urban district, following a high-profile release of school districts' performance on the test.
If Indiana students fare poorly on the new IREAD-3 exam, Hoosiers should demand to know why state officials spent money to create a new test and to require schools to spend more on retention and remediation for those students who don't pass.
Those are state dollars that could have been invested in early childhood education to make sure students never fall behind in reading. But, that makes too much sense.