The March test to evaluate the reading skills of Indiana's third-graders show 84 percent of those students have what it takes to move on to the fourth grade.
Without passing the test, third-graders cannot move on to the fourth grade.
Dr. Tony Bennett was upbeat in announcing the statewide results of more than 77,000 tested students.
In addition to an 84 percent passing rate, 36 percent of school districts met or exceeded 90 percent. Twenty-one schools achieved 100 percent, meaning all their third-grade students passed the test.
Dr. Bennett touted the overall results as a positive sign for Indiana's young students. He also said the results will allow educators to focus on the students who did not pass.
"Take a look at those other 16, and for the first time ever we know exactly what they need to work on," said Dr. Bennett.
Reading skills at the 3rd grade level are considered a crucial. That is when students transition from learning to read to reading to learn.
The IREAD-3 exam was designed to give the state a standardized look at which students need help before they get too far behind during later years.
Central Indiana school districts had several top performers:
Plainfield Community Schools: 95.6 percent
Hamilton Southeastern: 95.2 percent
Zionsville Schools: 95 percent
Carmel Clay: 93.6 percent
Center Grove: 92.7 percent
Several Marion County school districts saw struggles, including Indianapolis Public Schools scoring fourth from worst in the state at 66 percent.
However, one IPS school was a shining star for the district: Ernie Pyle Elementary School came in at 97.4 percent.
"As opposed to focusing on IPS elementary schools as a district being below state average, we always use Ernie Pyle as an example of a school who can knock it out of the park," said Dr. Bennett.
Padua Academy Charter School in Indianapolis was also recognized for high performance. With 95 percent of students who are learning English as a second language and qualifying for free or reduced lunches, the charter school achieved a 93.1 percent passage rate.
"Getting them to realize that reading is so important and that in order to succeed in any grade, they have to know how to read," said Padua Academy teacher Sarah Budd.
For the 16 percent of students who did not pass the test, they will have a chance to take it again near the end of the summer.
If they fail a second time, they will be held back in the third grade. The state will then use the third grade I-STEP Exam to test them again.
Meantime, schools will be conducting individualized interventions with students to focus on how they can improve their reading skills.