Should Schools Hold Back Struggling Readers Based on a Single Standardized Test?

Under a new plan in Indiana, third graders who fail a reading test will be held back. But there aren't any new resources to actually teach them.

Is holding students back based on their performance on a single standardized test the way to help struggling readers? The Indiana State Board of Education certainly thinks so. They've approved a new plan that mandates that third graders will have to pass a new statewide reading test before they can advance to fourth grade. And, according to the plan, students who've been retained once could potentially be held back a second time if they fail the test again.

The number of Indiana students that could potentially be retained based on the test results is staggering. Every year almost 33 percent of the state's third graders currently fail the reading portion of the ISTEP, the statewide proficiency exam. Although a new reading test is being designed to specifically measure third grade reading proficiency, if its results have any correlation to the ISTEP, Indiana's third grade classrooms are destined for overcrowding.

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