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Key Literacy Data Publicly Available for the First Time

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  • Current: Key Literacy Data Publicly Available for the First Time

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Molly Williams
(317) 234-3880

INDIANAPOLIS - As Indiana continues to make historic investments in literacy, a new data visualization tool launched by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) will empower educators, parents and families, community leaders and policymakers with the information needed to continue improving state and local literacy rates.

“The future of our state depends on our ability to equip our youngest Hoosiers with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful both in life and in their chosen career, and this starts with ensuring students can read,” said Governor Eric Holcomb. “That’s why in 2022, we established a statewide goal that 95% of third graders are reading proficiently by 2027. As we continue to make historic commitments towards this goal, we know that the investments we make in students today will have a positive impact on our state for generations to come.”

Through this newly-developed data visualization tool, the public is able to view at both the state- and school-level :

  • The number (or percentage) of students able to read by the end of third grade;
  • The number of students not able to read by the end of third grade;
  • The number of students advancing to fourth grade without foundational reading skills;
  • The number of students earning a Good Cause Exemption (GCE); and
  • The number of students who are proficient in math (passed ILEARN Math in third grade), but are not proficient in reading (did not pass IREAD-3).

This new tool also provides a longitudinal heat map showing the state of Indiana and the percentage of students advancing to fourth grade who are unable to read at grade level, by geographic location.

Key takeaways from the data include:

  • More than 65,000 Indiana 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.
    • 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.
    • Urgent improvement for all student populations will be essential in order to achieve the statewide goal of 95% of students passing IREAD-3 by 2027. 
      • 242 Indiana elementary schools have achieved the 95% goal, an increase of 32 elementary schools over 2022.
  • Indiana’s literacy rates have been declining for a decade, well before the pandemic.
  • Since 2012, the number of students who are not able to read at the end of third grade has more than doubled.
  • As reading scores have decreased, retention rates have also decreased, causing thousands of students to enter fourth grade unable to read.
    • In 2023, data show that over 96 percent of students who did not pass IREAD-3 were advanced to fourth grade.
  • Of the approximately 14,000 students who did not pass IREAD-3 in 2023, approximately 6,000 received a GCE.
  • A GCE exempts eligible third grade students from additional IREAD-3 testing requirements after receiving “Did Not Pass” on the assessment.
    • Eligible students who may qualify for a GCE include: students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP), identified English learners (ELs) and students who have been retained in third grade twice.
  • Approximately 95 percent of students who did not pass and did not receive a GCE were still advanced to fourth grade.
  • Of the approximately 14,000 students who did not pass IREAD-3 in 2023:  
    • Approximately 72% were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (FRL).
    • Approximately 45% are in special education (67% received a GCE)
    • Approximately 43% are white
    • Approximately 25% are Hispanic
    • Approximately 24% are Black
    • Approximately 20% are English learners (66% received a GCE)
    • Approximately 56% were male and 44% were female
  • Of the approximately 14,000 students who did not pass IREAD-3 in 2023, approximately 3% were retained in third grade, which equates to approximately 400 students. Below is a breakdown of the proportion of students who were retained out of the total number of students in that student population who did not pass:
    • 3.1% of students who were eligible for FRL (307 students eligible for FRL were retained out of the 9,978 students eligible for FRL who did not pass)
    • 1.0% of students in special education (65 students in special education were retained out of the 6,273 students in special education who did not pass)
    • 3.1% of white students (183 white students were retained out of the 5,921 white students who did not pass)
    • 1.8% of Hispanic students (62 Hispanic students were retained out of the 3,405 Hispanic students who did not pass)
    • 3.9% of Black students (129 Black students were retained out of the 3,311 Black students who did not pass)
    • 1.0% of EL students (29 EL students were retained out of the 2,819 EL students who did not pass)
    • 2.6% of male students (202 male students were retained out of the 7,735 male students who did not pass) and 3.4% of female students (208 female students were retained out of the 6,120 female students who did not pass)
  • Of the approximately 14,000 students who did not pass IREAD-3 in 2023, 583 were proficient in math.
  • Additional student data points suggest most students who advance to fourth grade without foundational reading skills continue to struggle with reading and other learning.
    • Students who do not achieve proficiency on IREAD-3 experience ongoing difficulties with text complexity, engagement with research components and writing skills.
    • Overall, students who do not pass IREAD-3 are at risk of not achieving proficiency on future assessments, including ILEARN, and are less likely to graduate.

“In the history of our state, we have never had this level of partnership and support for advancing literacy,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “This historic collaboration implores us all to seize the moment and determine key solutions in order to urgently move the needle for students. As schools, this means working proactively to maximize our use of data to direct earlier interventions and support to students who need it most. And as parents, this means reading to our children every day, long before they enter a K-12 classroom. As we begin the 2024 legislative session, we will continue to remain laser-focused on continuing to find the solutions needed to make sure all Indiana students are readers and have the best possible opportunities in their future.”

As this tool is refined, it will help to: quantify the number of students in each grade level who are unable to read; track the long-term impacts of illiteracy; evaluate the impact of the state’s current literacy efforts; and, inform ongoing policy decisions.

To support schools and educators, as well as parents and families in preparing students with foundational reading skills, Indiana continues to make historic investments in literacy, totaling over $170 million. Below are examples of how this investment was used to positively impact students in 2023 –

  • Increased school-level science of reading instructional coaching and support for educators through the Indiana Literacy Cadre. Participation in 2023 grew nearly five-fold, with 199 total schools opting into cohorts one and two.
  • Provided over 77,000 hours of learning support and tutoring services to over 18,000 students through Indiana Learns, regardless of a family’s ability to pay. The recent expansion allows students and families access to additional funds once their initial $1,000 award has been spent.
  • Grew the Indiana Learning Lab from 6,000 users in 2021 to over 55,000 users just two years later, including launching the Parent and Family Support Hub, which provides no cost, 24/7 access to resources for parents and families to support their student’s learning.
  • Developed online professional development modules supporting Indiana educators with additional science of reading training. Over 2,500 educators are currently participating and will receive a $1,200 stipend upon completion.
  • Expanded the number of schools opting-in to administer the state’s IREAD-3 assessment for second grade students to 771 schools. This allows teachers, parents and families to immediately know if a child is on-track or at-risk when it comes to mastering foundational literacy skills.
  • Provided $10 million in cash stipends to teachers, instructional coaches and other school staff at all corporations and charter schools who are responsible for the implementation and delivery of early literacy and reading instruction through the Literacy Achievement Grants.
  • Increased the implementation of evidence-based instructional practices for over 65,000 students across Indiana through the competitive science of reading grant, which awarded nearly $15 million to 72 school corporations. This is in addition to the multiple other initiatives supporting science of reading.

To learn more about additional literacy supports available to Indiana schools, click here.