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Reading bill amendments expand retention exemptions, create appeals process

A child reads a picture book while sitting at a table.
FILE PHOTO: WFIU/WTIU
One of the bill's amendments would mandate that students who fail the exam and have a summer school attendance rate lower than 90 percent participate in an individualized reading plan that adheres to the science of reading.

Lawmakers passed three amendments to a reading bill Monday that create another exemption – and an appeals process – for students in danger of being held back after failing a state reading exam.

Senate Bill 1 includes several proposals to improve third grade IREAD-3 scores. It requires all second graders to take the third grade reading exam and provides early intervention to students who are struggling through remediation and summer school. Students who still do not pass the IREAD-3 in third grade would be held back.

Sen. Linda Rogers (R-Granger), the bill’s author, proposed an amendment that says students who fail the exam and have a summer school attendance rate lower than 90 percent must participate in an individualized reading plan that adheres to the science of reading.

That amendment also adds new reading intervention reporting requirements for school districts and creates an additional good cause exemption for students who have already been held back twice by the time they reach third grade.

There are also good cause exemptions for some students who are English language learners or have intellectual disabilities. Data from the IDOE shows the number of students who do not receive exemptions after failing the test has grown disproportionately compared to the number of students who do receive exemptions.

READ MORE: How do I follow Indiana’s legislative session? Here’s your guide to demystify the process

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Rogers supported the two other amendments adopted by the Senate. One of those amendments says school districts must create a parental appeals process for reading retention. Sen. J.D. Ford (D-Indianapolis) said the amendment gives parents more say in whether their child should be forced to repeat a grade.

The third amendment requires school districts to make parents aware of both the importance of reading, and the possibility of reading retention for students who fail the state reading test when entering kindergarten.

The bill passed the Senate on its second reading and now moves to third reading, where lawmakers will debate the merit of the bill as a whole.

Kirsten is our education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.

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Kirsten the Indiana Public Broadcasting education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.