While Hoosiers have largely shaken off negative effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, too many of our K-12 students are still behind in school after many switched to virtual or hybrid instruction during the public health emergency.
In Indiana, only 22% of low-income students (those on free and reduced lunch) passed the math portion and 26% passed the English portion of the ILEARN exam last school year. Results from a study conducted by the Indiana Department of Education showed the pandemic had a moderate to significant impact on English language arts for students in grades 3-8, meaning learning recovery will likely take one school year or more, and require supplemental academic support. For math, the study showed a significant impact on learning.
To help ensure these children don’t fall further behind, I sponsored legislation that would establish student enrichment accounts for students who didn’t have a proficient ILEARN score for the 2021-22 school year. IDOE would administer these accounts using federal stimulus funding for parents of these students to buy pre-approved enrichment materials and services.
IDOE would provide $500 for each account, with the student’s school corporation having the option to contribute an additional $250 that IDOE would match for a total of $1,000. School corporations that choose to contribute would suggest materials and services their students could use to help achieve proficient test scores. Service providers would be required to report to these school corporations what resources were provided and evaluations used to measure each student’s progress.
As chair of the House Education Committee, my goals continue to be making sure funding follows the student and that we support parents. Offering student enrichment accounts would allow them to choose the resources they think will help their children get their academics back on track and prepared for a successful future.