Nearly One in Five Hoosier Third Graders Still Struggling to Read
Wednesday, August 16, 2023
INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) today released results from the 2022-2023 Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination (IREAD-3) assessment, which show that too few Indiana students have mastered foundational reading skills by the end of third grade: nearly one in five students are still struggling to read at this key milestone.
“Up until the end of third grade, students are developing key skills to become proficient in foundational reading. Once they advance to fourth grade they must be able to apply those skills to access future learning,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “Today, nearly one in five Indiana students is unable to read by the end of third grade. This is a crisis that could have a long-term negative impact on Indiana’s economy and negative repercussions throughout our society. We have no time to waste, and together, we must urgently work to improve reading outcomes for Indiana students, including supporting both current and future educators with the knowledge and tools necessary to teach our students to read using evidence-based literacy instruction, rooted in science of reading.”
Statewide, results show that more than 65,000 Indiana’s third grade students – or 81.9% – demonstrated proficient reading skills on the assessment. This is a minimal improvement of 0.3 percentage points over results for the 2021-2022 school year.
Indiana's third grade literacy rates have been dropping for a decade, even prior to the academic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, results remain 9.5 percentage points below the state’s highest-ever proficiency rate (91.4%) during the 2012-2013 school year.
In total, nearly 15,000 third grade students – or 18.1% – will need additional support to meet grade-level reading standards. Overall, reading proficiency improved slightly for Black students, students receiving free or reduced-price meals, students in special education, as well as English learners, but declined for Hispanic students. Continued improvement for all student populations will be essential to achieving the statewide goal of 95% of students passing IREAD-3 by 2027. Today, 242 Indiana elementary schools have achieved this 95% goal, an increase of 32 elementary schools over 2022.
For the second year, schools had an opportunity to proactively administer the IREAD-3 assessment to their second grade students at no cost – a tactic that has already proven successful at providing educators and families an early On Track indicator to determine if students will master foundational reading skills by the end of grade three. Fifty-seven percent of elementary schools administered IREAD-3 to their second grade students in 2023, an increase from 38% in 2022.
Of the second grade students who participated in 2023, 62% either passed the assessment or are on track to pass by the end of third grade. Nearly all second graders who achieved On Track in 2022 passed the assessment in 2023. The ability to identify students who need additional, targeted support as early as possible, is just one benefit of administering IREAD-3 at grade two.
Another recently deployed tactical solution that is showing early signs of success is the Indiana Literacy Cadre, which provides 199 participating schools’ early elementary teachers with embedded instructional coaching and support aligned with the science of reading. The initiative began with 41 elementary schools during the 2022-2023 school year. As participation in the Literacy Cadre grows, IDOE continues to measure the impact on the IREAD-3 scores of the schools’ second grade and third grade students.
The Indiana Literacy Cadre is one of several tactical solutions made possible through the state’s largest-ever financial investment in literacy, which was announced in August 2022. Under the leadership of Governor Eric J. Holcomb, Indiana partnered with Lilly Endowment, Inc. to invest up to $111 million to support early literacy development. This investment was recently expanded by the Indiana General Assembly during the 2023 legislative session, resulting in a combined total investment of $170 million.
IDOE is also leading a number of additional innovative initiatives to support schools, educators and students, including -
- Up to $60 million in new state-funded Science of Reading Grants to schools and Early Literacy Achievement Grants to teachers.
- The opportunity for educators to earn a $1,200 stipend by completing science of reading modules for K-3, English language and special education teachers through the online Indiana Learning Lab;
- Up to $185 million in state-funded grants to help schools and community partners support accelerated learning for students through summer and before-, after- school programming;
- The recent expansion of Indiana Learns, providing additional learning support for students, regardless of their parents’ ability to pay;
- A partnership with Schoolhouse.world to remove financial barriers to tutoring opportunities.
To learn more about IDOE’s science of reading-focused initiatives, click here.