Was the Indiana State Board of Education just complying with the wishes of the Legislature when it adopted a rule last year that says third-graders must be retained if they don’t pass a reading test? Not according to the author of the bill in question.
Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, told School Matters that lawmakers clearly weren’t saying kids should be held back on the basis of their performance on a single test.
“The state superintendent and board of education essentially usurped what we said we wanted done as a legislature,” he said. “They went beyond the intent of the legislation.”
Porter was chairman of the House Education Committee in 2010, and in that role he was the lead sponsor of HEA 1367 – also known as Public Law 109 — which called for for improving reading skills for students in primary grades.
The legislation, Porter said, was a compromise that reflected strong reservations about the push by Gov. Mitch Daniels and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett to require students to pass a reading test in order to be promoted to fourth grade. It said retention should be used only as a last resort.
Porter said lawmakers were aware of research showing that students who are held back are much less likely to graduate from high school, and they also questioned implementing such high-stakes accountability when Indiana trailed other states in funding early-childhood education. Continue reading