10:43 PM EDT, June 20, 2012
Beginning this week, thousands of Hoosier third-graders will be retaking the state mandated iRead test, and there is a lot on the line.
According to the Indiana Department of Education, students must pass the test before schools can move them ahead to fourth grade reading. With so much at stake, the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library and local businesses are teaming with the Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis to help students develop better reading habits.
IPS third-grader Kaylyn White said she enjoys reading what she can.
"Sometimes I read a book over and over and over," White said.
But without a wider range of books under her belt, White fell short on the statewide iRead test this past spring.
"I took it and I almost passed," White said.
White is far from the only student who didn’t pass. Sixteen percent of students failed to pass the iRead test statewide and 34 percent failed at IPS. Now the majority, including White are in summer school in order to retake it.
"If children aren't reading by third grade then we know, through the research, that that's going to be a problem in terms of graduating on time,” said IPS spokeswoman Mary Louise Bewley. “It's critically important that our kids learn their reading skills by third grade."
"We just want to make sure that they have everything they need to be successful in the classroom," said Jeff Gasior, spokesperson for the Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis.
The Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis is supplying kids with books thanks to a book drive in cooperation with the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library, WTTS and Teacher's Credit Union. The “Reading for Hope” drive collected more than 350 gently used books for students age 8 to 12.
"So our kids have something to take home with them,” Gasior said. “They don't have to bring it back. They can feel that sense of ownership and pride of having an actual reading station."
The program also provides free reading lights for the children, so they can read at night no matter their resources at home.
"I never had one of these," White said.
The hope behind the lights and books, is to build healthy reading habits with fun in mind, not test scores.
"I would just want to say, 'Yay,’” White said. “I'm happy."
The library is still in the process of delivering the donated books to all four Boys and Girls Club branches in Indianapolis. The clubs will begin handing them out to children next week.