Proposal Eliminates IRI From Teacher Evaluations

The IRI, or Idaho Reading Indicator, will be removed from the state’s list of acceptable measures to use when determining if a teacher is producing measurable student achievement increases.

Rep. Julie VanOrden (R-Pingree)

Rep. Julie VanOrden’s proposal acknowledges that the IRI is “a reading skills screener,” and not a measure of student growth in achievement. As such, it’s use in future teacher evaluations would be prohibited if her bill is successful.

The IRI is given to K-3 students in the fall and spring of each academic year. Depending on the grade, it assesses letter name fluency, letter sound fluency, and Oral Reading Passage Fluency.

The IRI also sets target values for fall and spring each year. Obviously, a teacher serving difficult populations of students might not reach the target value even though they generated substantial growth during the academic year.

Thus the concern with a school or district which chooses to use the IRI as a student achievement indicator as part of a teacher’s evaluation.

Such a move, nearly by definition, guarantees low marks for teachers serving English Language Learners, special education, and free/reduced lunch students who are statistically less likely to reach set target proficiency values.

Which is why VanOrden wants to eliminate the use of the measure in teacher evaluations. The bill leaves intact over a dozen other measures that can be used instead.

It is interesting, however, that this logic was not extended to the Idaho Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) which continues to be on the list of approved measures in the bill.

Like the IRI, the ISAT measures set proficiency targets, not student growth. For all the same reasons as the IRI, the use of such a measure in a teacher’s evaluation blindly punishes teachers working with difficult populations of students who, again, are statistically unlikely to reach set proficiency target values.

Perhaps, VanOrden’s philosophy here is one of baby steps. Depending on the action this bill sees might be indicative of a future effort to also remove the ISAT from the list for all the same reasons.


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