Indian Creek Intermediate principal defends carnival decision

Some Indian Creek Intermediate School parents have expressed disappointment at the school’s decision to limit access at an end-of-year carnival for students who didn’t meet reading benchmarks. The school’s principal is defending the decision.

The carnival, which took place Tuesday, allowed all students to take part in all carnival games as they reached a school reading score goal of 100,000 points as part of the Reading Counts incentives. Students were able to earn points by reading books, listening to audiobooks or watching stories being read on YouTube before taking quizzes based on the material, according to an email sent by Principal Kim Davis to Katie Wells, a parent who shared the message in a Facebook post.

While the students at the school, which serves third, fourth and fifth graders, were able to play games and eat snacks, they were given wristbands based on their Reading Counts score. Only students who had a wristband indicating they had reached a certain score could play in the bounce house activity and eat treats such as snow cones and cotton candy, Davis said.

“Every kid had access to every single game, and we were able to additionally reward kids with individual accomplishments with extra bonus things,” she said. “It’s important to note we have had the highest IREAD (test) scores in Johnson County the past two years, and I think it’s because we encourage reading to all our kids at all levels every year. Every year we have rewards and this year it was a carnival. Sometimes we have field trips.”

But some parents took issue with the carnival because they said it left children who hadn’t reached the score threshold demoralized when they watched their peers get to partake in activities they couldn’t. Erika Davenport said she wasn’t told the scoring system when she agreed to volunteer for the carnival and said her two children, who are in fourth and fifth grade, were barred from the bounce house and from eating the treats.

“I kind of felt bad for them,” Davenport said. “They didn’t get their field day, this replaced it. I understand they’re being held accountable, but if this is replacing a field day, you would think everything would be available to everyone so they can participate and celebrate their school year. Some of the kids were sitting on the ground watching the other kids, and it was heartbreaking as a mom.”

Katie Wells said her child has an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, meaning he needs extra accommodations to learn. He ended up missing the cutoff score for some of the carnival features and said even though he gets those accommodations, it is still more difficult to achieve certain goals than for children who don’t have a disability, Wells said.

“Just because they have an audiobook, it’s not comparable to not having that disability in the first place and taking those quizzes. Not all the students have support or a parent at home that can spend hours with them doing homework,” Wells said. “I think it’s a huge issue. We’re comparing academic work ethic to only Reading Counts points. My son has worked his butt off all year and done extra remedial work every single day to get caught up on reading.”

The school’s parent teacher organization, which parents are encouraged to join, held multiple meetings to discuss plans for the end-of-year activity, Davis said.

While feedback will shape anything that can be improved for the next end-of-year activity, she said she has no problems with the way the carnival was conducted.

“I think every year we improve. We take all kinds of feedback into account and absolutely we will improve it if we hold that event again,” Davis said. “I am very proud of all the accomplishments students achieved this year and the way we celebrated it. I’m very proud of the carnival.”