Indiana students improved on ILEARN test, better before pandemic

Indiana students improved on this year’s ILEARN test, but they’re still behind where they were before the pandemic:
The Indiana Department of Education says English passing rates are stabilizing after a drop during the pandemic. And math performance actually went up. But the math recovery only makes up a quarter to half the four-to-nine percentage points lost the year before.
Education Secretary Katie Jenner says the state will need to “triple down” on reading recovery programs. Chief academic officer Charity Flores says the department is launching a coaching program this summer, putting reading specialists in 70 schools to help teachers focus their efforts on the science of reading.
Jenner says schools will receive student-specific learning-loss data next month. And the department is finalizing plans for a “micro-grant” program for parents to get their kids tutoring help.
Flores says the department expects it’ll take another one-to-three years to fully recoup learning losses from the pandemic. She says the department plans a sustained effort to regain that ground. State Board of Education member Scott Bess, the executive director of Purdue Polytechnic High School in Indianapolis, notes legislators will begin writing a new two-year budget in January, and says holding schools to their current spending levels won’t be enough. He says addressing learning losses needs to be a priority.
Bess says he’s “anxious” about the incoming cohort of third graders, whose entire school experience so far has come during the pandemic. Students don’t take the ILEARN until third grade, and Bess says he’s concerned third-grade numbers may take a sharp dive when that group is tested for the first time. Flores says while there isn’t comprehensive data on those pupils, there are enough early signals to spur the department to beef up reading resources.
More than half of Hoosier students failed the English portion of the test, both last year and this year. All grade levels had math passing rates below 50-percent except third graders, whose passing rate edged up three points this year after dropping seven points last year.

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