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Dr. Katie Jenner headshot

Source: PHOTO: Official state photo/Gov. Eric Holcomb’s website

STATEWIDE — You probably heard last week that Indiana’s children are struggling to read.

The state’s IREAD test scores came back indicating that every 1 in 5 third graders in Indiana reads at a level below what they should be. Even though there was a slight improvement in overall reading efficiency among Indiana’s third graders, Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana’s Secretary of Education, said it’s not cutting it.

“We have actually been declining as a state in our literacy scores for a decade,” Jenner said on Indy Politics. “A lot of times people point to the COVID pandemic as when the learning loss began to happen and that is just not accurate.”

Jenner said several factors may be playing into the reasons behind the decline.

She said one thing that needs to be reinforced in districts throughout the state is that teachers are properly trained in the “science of reading”, meaning that teachers are making sure students are learning and developing phonemic awareness.

That is the ability to hear, identify, and differentiate what certain letters and words mean. Jenner said that can start as early as the age of 2 or 3 when parents can start simply reading to their children.

“Making sure every night you are reading to your child 20 to 30 minutes,” she said. “It’s a little thing that makes a massive difference when it comes to building those foundational skills for children.”

She also advises finding a good early learning center if you do not home-school your child before first grade. Finally, Jenner said that even though kindergarten is not required under state law, she highly recommends you enroll your child in kindergarten.