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Holcomb signs reading retention bill into law

A teacher sits at a desk in a Santa hat and shows flash cards with letters on them to a young child.
FILE PHOTO: Jeanie Lindsay
IPB News
Third graders who fail the IREAD-3 exam will be retained under a new law signed by the governor this week.

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a controversial reading retention bill into law Monday. The new law will hold back nearly all third graders who fail the state’s reading proficiency exam.

Lawmakers in both chambers passed Senate Bill 1 as a way to address low reading scores and students advancing to fourth grade without being able to read. Those who oppose the bill say retention hurts students socially and emotionally and punishes them for inefficient teaching methods.

Those in favor say holding students back is less disruptive long-term than advancing them in school without foundational reading skills.

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The measure includes exceptions for English language learners and students who have individualized education plans, excel in math or have already been held back.

The new law also mandates the creation of reading screeners, requires schools to start testing in second grade and expands eligibility for summer school funding.

Kirsten is our education reporter. Contact her at or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.

Kirsten the Indiana Public Broadcasting education reporter. Contact her at or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.