Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #192 – January 13, 2015

Dear Friends,

This is a follow-up to Statehouse Notes #190 regarding my commentary on Senate Bill 169, the IREAD-2 bill.

Senator Houchin called me yesterday (Monday) to let me know that she has a new amendment to the bill which clarifies that second graders who don’t pass the statewide IREAD-2 test would not be required to be retained in the second grade. Instead they would go on to third grade where they would be retained as third graders if they failed to pass IREAD-3 at the end of Grade 3.

I will let those parents and teachers of second graders decide for themselves if this makes Senate Bill 169 more palatable to them. I appreciated Senator Houchin’s call and her efforts to send me the amendment in advance of the hearing.

Details of the Amendment

Senator Houchin’s amendment clarifies two points that were not in the original bill:
1) The timing of the change to a statewide IREAD-2 test would be in 2016-17. The amendment says:

“This subdivision applies after June 30, 2016.”

2) Second graders would not be automatically retained if they fail the statewide IREAD-2 test. The amendment says:

“An emphasis on a method for making determinant evaluations by grade 2 that might require retention or remedial action for the student in grade 2 or grade 3. A student who requires remediation after the student is evaluated in grade 2 must receive remedial action and be reevaluated in grade 3. If the student remains below standard after receiving remedial action and being reevaluated in grade 3, the student, after other methods of remediation have been evaluated or used, or both, must be retained as a last resort. If a student who is in kindergarten or grade 1 is not on track to meet grade level reading expectations as required by the plan, the student’s teacher may suggest remedial action, including retention of the student. Appropriate consultation with parents or guardians must be part of the plan.”
That is Senator Houchin’s amendment which all should be aware of if you are concerned about this bill.

Come to the Hearing or Contact Your Legislators as You Are Can

Should the first statewide assessment of reading be moved back to second grade?

I think this question should be answered with major input from second grade teachers and parents. Senator Houchin shared with me that the idea for this change came from elementary teachers in her district.

I continue to have three broad concerns:
1) This change would be the first statewide testing of second graders since ISTEP testing in grade 2 was dropped nearly 25 years ago. Since then, a consensus has held that statewide testing should begin at grade 3 based on greater stability and reliability of testing at that level. I believe that consensus should be sustained.

2) This change would cost $1.2 million for the transition year when the IREAD assessment would need to be given at both second and third grades. After that, it would be given at the second grade, but there would be some additional cost to the state for retesting third graders who did not pass as second graders. If lawmakers feel they have an extra $1.2 available, I hope they will direct it to restarting the professional development fund that was eliminated in the Dr. Bennett years.

3) Even though some teachers may perceive this as a fairly small change, others will see it as huge and unwarranted. It would put second graders and second grade teachers into the pressured milieu of the testing culture that currently starts at third grade. Inevitably, second grade IREAD scores if available would become data points to compare schools in the grand competitive marketplace of parental choice that we now have in Indiana. Inevitably, second grade IREAD scores if available would become factors in the evaluation and compensation decisions for second grade teachers. As I see it, this is not a change we need to make in a complex year devoted to implementing new standards and new assessments.
The meeting will begin in the Senate Chamber tomorrow, January 14th at approximately 2:30pm after adjournment from the annual State of the Judiciary Address. The hearing on Senate Bill 169 will be the fifth bill out of six on the agenda. I hope you will have your say either at the hearing or in communications with Senators on the Education Committee or with your own Senator.

Thanks for your involvement and participation in support of public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support the ICPE lobbying efforts. Joel Hand will again be our ICPE lobbyist in the Statehouse. Many have renewed their memberships already, and we thank you! If you have not done so since July 1, the start of our new membership year, we urge you to renew now.

We must raise additional funds for the 2015 session, which begins on January 6th. We need additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998. In 2013 I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, and in 2014 I was honored to be named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, the way I see it, this has to do with grading schools and teachers, not students. Right now, grades K-2 and most high school courses are not tested. They are already adding more tests to grades 9 & 10 and now this one to grade 2. Republicans are determined that every teacher will have a test score attached to their evaluation. It is not good for students, teachers, or schools.