Saturday, January 17, 2015

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #193 – January 17, 2015

Dear Friends,

The bill to move IREAD-3 to the second grade, Senate Bill 169, seemed to receive a favorable reception in Wednesday’s Senate Education Committee hearing. The committee vote on the bill will be this Wednesday afternoon, January 21st.

The question proposed by SB169 is: Shall all community public schools, charter schools and private schools give IREAD-3 to their second graders, allowing remediation in grade 3 for those who do not pass as second graders before retesting at the end of third grade. Currently, all three types of schools give IREAD-3 in the spring of the third grade. Failure leads to retention in grade 3.

All second and third grade parents and teachers and all others with a strong interest in this bill should communicate their views to their Senators before the vote next Wednesday.

Details of the Hearing

Senator Houchin introduced her proposal to move IREAD-3 to May of the second grade year with no requirement that failing the test as a second grader would require retention. She said remediation would occur in grade 3 and students would be retested at the end of grade 3 before the retention rule for failing to pass IREAD-3 would be enforced. She said that Senator Pete Miller and Senator Mishler have joined her as co-sponsors of SB169.

She said the idea for this bill came from teachers in her district, and she introduced Tom Rosenbaum, principal of West Washington Elementary, to give the points why the bill is supported by his teachers:
  • Third grade teachers are currently “bombarded by state testing”.
  • Excessive third grade testing could be spread out by giving IREAD-3 at the end of second grade.
  • Second graders who did not pass would not face mandated retention but would have third grade for remediation with two opportunities to pass the test at the end of grade 3, once in the spring and once in the summer.
  • There is no money for summer school remediation, so remediation is best done in the third grade.
  • IREAD-3 tests second grade skills, especially phonics.
Five others then testified on the bill. J.T. Coopman, IAPSS, supported the bill. Maryann Schlegel Ruegger, the only parent to testify, opposed the bill. Sally Sloan, AFT-Indiana, opposed the bill due to the $1.2 million price tag but said some teachers in her network liked the concept. Ronni Embry, ISTA, opposed the bill. As the last to testify, I opposed the bill, making four points:
  • A consensus has held for 25 years in Indiana that no statewide testing should begin before grade 3 due to the research that test scores for young children lack stability and reliability and are subject to false negatives.
  • The $1.2 million cost to transition to the second grade should be used for more pressing priorities like restarting professional development funding that has been cut completely from the budget.
  • This would engage second graders for the first time into the pressure of the testing culture, giving some students and parents a third grade year filled with anxiety if the students fail IREAD-3 as second graders.
  • Schools currently have a local option to download, use and score IREAD-2 to see if students are on track. This bill would remove this local option and mandate all to take IREAD-3 as second graders.
I have attached my full testimony for those who want more details. [You can read and download Vic's Testimony here]

John Barnes representing IDOE was asked for information about IREAD-3. He said the State Board, the Governor’s office and the Indiana Department of Education have all agreed in the past that it is not appropriate to have statewide tests below grade 3. When he confirmed that the IREAD-3 test is a test of second grade skills, Senator Rogers who is the ranking Democrat on the committee said based on that information, she will support the bill.

It is my hope that all parents, teachers and administrators with a strong interest in second and third grades will weigh the pros and cons on this issue and participate in this debate by contacting the Senators on the committee and their own Senator.

Will this solution to excessive third grade testing serve as a benefit or a hindrance to second graders, and is it worth spending $1.2 million to do this? Obviously, I oppose the bill, but there are approximately 80,000 second graders and 80,000 third graders whose parents and teachers should have their say. Only six people have testified on the bill thus far. Let our democracy go to work!

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.


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