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Ritz Pushes For Alternative To Holding Back After I-READ

Glenda Ritz speaks with the media on the day she declared her candidacy for state superintendent.

Indiana‘s requirement that third-graders pass a reading test before advancing to fourth grade could be short-lived. State School Superintendent Glenda Ritz will ask the State Board of Education next month to make it a last-resort option for schools to hold back third graders who flunk the I-READ test.

Ritz‘s predecessor Tony Bennett had made it a requirement. Ritz wants to replace the high-stakes aspect of I-READ with a commitment to test reading throughout the school year.

“We’re not going to wait until the end of the school year with a pass/fail test and say now let’s remediate,” Ritz says. “We’re actually going to provide interventions the whole time.”

Right now, she says teachers have no precise way to measure how much help students need until the I-READ in the spring.

Senate Education Chairman Dennis Kruse first proposed the third-grade reading requirement.

He says he and Ritz share the goal of making reading a top priority, and he applauds the idea of testing throughout the year. But he says he is unsure whether Ritz and the board have the authority to end the high-stakes I-READ without legislative approval.

“What she is proposing now would have to somehow match up within the existing law,” Kruse says. “It would be good for somebody to get the existing law and get her proposal side by side and see if she’s exceeding the authority or staying within the authority of the law.”

Even if they do, Ritz may have to persuade the other members of the 11-person board. Except for Ritz, the board‘s members are largely the same people who approved the reading requirement in the first place.

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