All but one school district in Johnson County surpassed the Indiana average in reading proficiency among third-graders this year. Most school districts stayed close to their grades from 2021 or improved them.
Proficiency scores come from the IREAD-3 exam, which tests third-grade students’ reading skills, including identifying word sounds and knowing their meanings. Five school districts in Johnson County had more or less than 90% of third-graders passing the exam. Pupils at the Edinburgh Community School Corporation had a proficiency level of 80.9%, which is just below the state average of 81.6%, according to data from the Department for Education of the Edinburgh. ‘Indiana, or IDOE.
Edinburgh School’s figure is a steep drop from the district’s 89.2% proficiency rate in 2021. Year three students who took the IREAD exam in the spring saw their start to college careers seriously affected by the pandemic. Nor are they the same students who took the exam the year before, Superintendent Ron Ross said in an email.
“Each group has its own strengths and areas for growth,” Ross said. “This group of third graders hasn’t had a normal school year since they started kindergarten. We will analyze the various assessment data available to us to determine the needs of our students. Like most schools, we are seeing the effects of the pandemic on our students. »
All six school districts in the county have lowered the IREAD proficiency level from 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. Greenwood Community School Corporation officials saw third-grade reading skills drop the most, from 94.8% in 2019 to 84.9% in 2021, but they rebounded 3.5% in 2022, the same percentage rebounded that Franklin Community School Corporation students had from last year through today. year.
Part of the rebound is due to students spending more time in classrooms during the 2021-22 school year compared to the previous two school years, said Lisa Harkness, program director, of the Teaching and Assessment in Greenwood Schools.
“Most schools aren’t pre-pandemic, but we’re closing the gap,” Harkness said. “When we left school in March 2020, there were still 2 and a half months of school left. For many children in kindergarten, first or second grade, there was an enormous amount of teaching of the reading they missed. Teachers tried to replace the missed instruction, but there is no substitute for being in front of the teachers.
This spring, IDOE offered schools the option of testing second-grade students, who would then no longer have to test in third-grade if they passed. Administrators at Greenwood Schools have seized the opportunity and can now look at areas where last year’s sophomores struggled as they bring them up to speed this year, she said.
“We have intervention times in all our buildings. During that time, we see where the deficits are or where they need to develop, and the students step in during that time,” Harkness said. “It could be a computer program, Orton-Gillingham, and we have other research-based resources once we identify what their academic needs are.”
Orton-Gillingham multi-sensory phonics training is also used by Franklin schools, and the diagnostic approach to literacy can help students with dyslexia, said school district assistant superintendent Brooke Worland.
“Other things we’ve done, we’re already looking at robust ways to measure our summer school programs. We have book clubs for third graders who might need more time. We have tutoring opportunities and a partnership with Sylvan Learning Center,” Worland said. “We’re looking to start filling the literacy gaps even earlier with some of our students in kindergarten, in the preschool area, students that we can identify and nurture so that they’re even better prepared.”
Indian Creek schools had the highest reading skills in the county, at 92.4%, despite a 1.5% drop from the previous year. Third-grade students in the school district even outperformed the average third-grade private school student in Indiana. Private schools in the state averaged 91.9 percent proficiency, according to Indiana Department of Education data.
At Indian Creek Middle School, which includes students in grades three through five, teachers are looking at what students need to improve on if they don’t pass the exam in the spring and have to take it a second time in summer. The exam is also a true measure of a student’s literacy proficiency, rather than an exam that students prepare for and then forget about, said principal Kim Davis.
“We always review the daily feedback that teachers give us in class. With benchmark assessments, we make things better every year for kids,” Davis said. “I am impressed with the success of last year and we will try to hit the target this year and surpass our own scores.”