Indiana softens new reading training requirements after teacher outcry

A large white stone building with a green dome and an American flag on the top.
Indiana education officials relaxed some requirements included in a new law on reading skills that previously required all teachers with an elementary or special education license to earn a literacy endorsement. Now, fewer teachers will have to undertake that training. (Elaine Cromie / Chalkbeat)

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Fewer teachers will need to take an 80-hour training on teaching reading after the Indiana Department of Education announced changes in response to educators’ concerns.

After Indiana teachers spoke out en masse against a new literacy training requirement, education officials softened the rules on who must take the training to earn a literacy endorsement in order to renew their licenses beginning in 2027.

Teachers who hold an elementary education license, but don’t currently teach in a content area that involves literacy, won’t have to earn the endorsement after all. That means teachers with elementary licenses who teach middle and high school and teachers in subjects like math are now exempt from the requirement — though the training is still “strongly encouraged” by the department.

Before the requirement goes into effect, school and district administrators will sign waivers for these teachers who don’t teach literacy and don’t plan to do so, according to a department FAQ.

But teachers who hold an elementary or special education license and teach in a content area that involves literacy for preschool to fifth grade students still must take the training and take a Praxis content exam to demonstrate their knowledge.

The announcement last week followed extensive public comment from educators at a May 8 meeting of the State Board of Education, where teachers voiced concerns about the new literacy endorsement required by a reading skills law passed this year known as SEA 1.

“The adjustments to these requirements reflect the voices and concerns of educators across Indiana,” said Indiana State Teachers Association President Keith Gambill in a statement Friday.

Officials have not backed down from a controversial requirement that teachers who take the literacy endorsement training must also take an accompanying Praxis content exam.

ISTA Senior Public Affairs Advisor Keith Clock said the Praxis requirement remains a top concern for the organization. He added that the language of SEA 1 allows some flexibility for how educators demonstrate proficiency in the science of reading.

Secretary of Education Katie Jenner said in her weekly newsletter sent Friday that the concerns about the Praxis exam were the most common, and “the most tricky to solve.”

The department also announced that new asynchronous courses will be available this fall to meet demand from teachers who need to take the training. All teachers, including those who already signed up for live training, can take the new asynchronous training.

Teachers expressed concerns about taking the training during the summer, when a free option from the state called Keys to Literacy was available, saying they had already planned to take second jobs, teach summer school, or vacation during that time. Others said the free sessions were already full.

Education officials can’t guarantee that free training will be available beyond spring 2025, when lawmakers will write a new state budget. Jenner said in the newsletter that the department will “continue to advocate for sustained funding for free teacher literacy training when the General Assembly convenes in January to build the 2025-2027 budget.”

Aleksandra Appleton covers Indiana education policy and writes about K-12 schools across the state. Contact her at aappleton@chalkbeat.org.

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