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Students are taking IREAD now. Here’s what to know about Indiana’s elementary literacy test

The IREAD-3 will be given to all third graders and most second graders during the March 4-15 through testing window.
The IREAD-3 will be given to all third graders and most second graders during the March 4-15 through testing window.

This week third graders and most second graders across Indiana will start taking the state reading test amid ongoing concern that too many students are not mastering literacy skills.

The standardized assessment known as IREAD-3, or the Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination, will be given to all third graders and most second graders during a testing window open March 4-15.

In 2023, 81.9 percent of the 82,000 third graders at public and private schools in Indiana passed the test. The scores were stagnant compared to the previous year and remained near the lowest point in a decade.

A law passed last year in response to the literacy decline requires schools to use literacy curriculums that follow science based teaching strategies, known as the science of reading. Yet many schools are still preparing for this change.

Gov. Eric Holcomb set a challenging goal of 95 percent reading proficiency for all third graders by 2027. Legislation headed to his desk for approval would hold some students back from fourth grade if they fail the test.

What is IREAD-3 and what does it measure?

It is an online, untimed, multiple-choice assessment consisting of three separate parts, according to the Indiana Department of Education. The first checks basic reading skills like phonics and vocabulary. The other two sections test how well students understand what they read in both nonfiction and fictional stories. Each student gets a unique version of the test with similar difficulty levels. Accommodations are available for students to use regular and large print paper test books.

The test measures if a student mastered crucial reading essentials like phonics and comprehension — skills that allow the student to become a stronger reader and critical thinker as they grow older.

The IREAD test began in 2012 as a way to review how well third graders were grasping reading skills. Two years later the test was tweaked to line up with new state academic standards for English/Language Arts and assess students on literacy fundamentals such as phonics and comprehension.

Do second graders take the test?

Current state law does not require second graders to be tested. But in 2022, Indiana Department of Education began allowing school districts to choose to give the test before third grade. This March, 82 percent of elementary schools opted in to test in second grade. Students who pass the test do not retake it in third grade.

What type of questions are on the test?

Students will be asked questions in each section that are aligned with the state academic standards, according to the test blueprint. Public examples include: Students will be asked to identify relationships among words, including synonyms and antonyms in the reading foundations portion.

In the nonfiction part, a student could be asked to read a passage and put events in chronological order. For the literature section, students may read a story and then describe the characters and explain how their actions contribute to the plot.

When will test results be known?

Parents should know if their student passed or not within two weeks of the test. Final individual students' results are available to schools by April 29, according to the IDOE. Last year, results of districts and schools were made public in mid-August.

What happens if a third grade student does not pass?

Students in third grade who do not pass will receive reading remediation at school and must retake the test in the summer. Students will be tested through grade five until proficiency is obtained, according to IDOE. Some students can receive a “good cause exemption” that makes them exempt from future testing and continue to fourth grade. Currently, decisions whether to hold back a student who did not pass are made at the local school level. Last year, less than 3 percent of students who did pass the Spring test were held back.

How does proposed legislation change IREAD-3?

Last week lawmakers sent Senate Bill 1 to Holcomb’s desk. The sweeping bill would require schools to hold back some students who fail IREAD and require all second graders to take the test, starting in the 2024-25 school year. Schools would also have to offer summer classes for students in second and third grade who are at risk of not being reading proficient or have yet to master literacy fundamentals.

Eric Weddle is the WFYI education editor. Contact Eric at

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