Hoosier parents, teachers, and citizens should be aware that legislation (SB169) sponsored by Rep. Erin Houchin (R) to move the mandatory third grade reading assessment (IREAD-3) down to second grade is scheduled for a vote this coming Wednesday, January 21st, by members of the the Senate Education Committee. Before they or anyone else decides if it is a good idea to bring mandatory, statewide, standardized assessments, and all the test-prep that goes with it, down to Hoosier second-graders, there is one central question that must be answered: Is there any research supporting it?
If they do, they will find that experts and organizations concerned with academic learning, growth, and assessment generally agree that standardized, group administered tests should not be used with students younger than third grade. The Association of Child Education International (AECI), The National Commission on Testing and Public Policy, The National Council of Teachers of English, and the International Reading Association all reached this conclusion after widely studying standardized testing. Among their findings, which were cited in a paper published by the Herr Research Center for Children and Social Policy at the Erickson Institution, are these:
“Young children are developmentally unreliable test takers. They have a restricted ability to comprehend such assessment cues as verbal instructions, aural stimuli, situational cues, or written instructions. Further, questions that require complex information-processing skills- giving weight to alternative choices, distinguishing recency from primary, or responding correctly to multistep directions- may cause a child to give the wrong answer….In addition, young children may not be able to control their behavior to meet the demands characteristic of the assessment situation- whether this is because they are affected by fatigue, boredom, hunger, illness, or anxiety, or simply because they are unable to sit still and attend for the length of time required.”
It is evident that administering the IREAD to Indiana second-graders will be a waste of both tax-payer dollars and classroom instruction time, as the test will be neither valid nor reliable, and it will generate results that are neither predictive nor conclusive. What it will do is generate many false negative scores which, in turn, will require the tests to be administered to more children twice; once in second grade when they fail it and again in third grade. The report mentioned above also points to several harmful consequences inflicted by a test-based environment in second grade, such as the following:
It narrows the curriculum and reduces time spent on instruction of engaging, enriching activities that lead to increased learning in order to do test prep.
It undermines teachers’ efforts to provide developmentally appropriate programs that meet the needs and interests of individual children.
It results in decreased motivation to learn and sets children up for failure which contributes to future drop-outs.
It does not improve learning and, in many cases, decreases learning.
It becomes the basis for important decisions, such as placement in lower tracks or remediation.
Concerned parents, grandparents, and citizens would be wise to contact members of the Senate Education Committee, before their scheduled vote this Wednesday afternoon. To leave them a message by phone call the Senate Switchboard at (317)232-9400 and ask to speak to their Legislative Assistant, or email them at the addresses listed below:
Chair: Senator Denise Kruse – S14@iga.in.gov
Senator Carlin Yoder – S12@iga.in.gov
Senator Banks – S17@iga.in.gov
Senator Bassler- S39@iga.in.gov
Senator Leising – S42@iga.in.gov
Senator Pete Miller – S24@iga.in.gov
Senator Raatz – S27@iga.in.gov
Senator Schneider – S30@iga.in.gov
Senator Rogers – S3@iga.in.gov
Senator Mrvan – S1@iga.in.gov
Senator Stoops – S40@iga.in.gov