Updated: Dec 6, 2020
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The Michigan Third Grade Reading Law, passed in 2016, is both beneficial and unfavorable to families in Michigan. This law states that third-graders who have a reading level one grade behind may have to repeat third grade.
After certain assessments, other reading tests in school, student reading progress between kindergarten and third grade will be tracked and recorded. Near spring during the end of 3rd grade, students will take their first M-STEP assessment, deciding whether the student will need to repeat the grade or not. If the student is retained, schools will provide programs designed to effectively improve student reading levels. This extra help includes individually assigned reading teachers, special small groups, and different learning activities that will guide the student.
While the Michigan Third Grade Reading Law may help improve the average education levels in Michigan, it also causes problems for students who attend schools where there is a lack of funding and accessibility. Poorer schools in Michigan may not have resources or a good curriculum to make sure students can meet the reading standards. According to a Michigan State Analysis, the likeliness of becoming retained for students that have financial difficulties is quadrupled. This drastic difference surely worries families and others who are part of a low-income community.
Critics also stress the mental stress and pressure on students who may have to repeat the grade. Michigan’s governor Gretchen Whitmer further put in the effort to help students that are put at a disadvantage because of the law. In an interview with Bridge, Whitmer says that “the law is ill-informed and could have incredibly harmful impacts on children. What we're trying to do is empower parents so that they can make informed choices on behalf of their kids.”
Currently, Whitmer is taking action by partnering with foundations such as the Skillman Foundation in Detroit, the Max & Marjorie Fisher Foundation in Southfield, the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, and the Battle Creek Community Foundation. Not only working with these foundations, but Whitmer states that she would love to work with legislators to change the reading law. However, at the moment her main goal is to help families and their children.
Courses of action that YOU can do is donating to these foundations or even schools that you know are struggling financially. By petitioning against the reading law, donating supplies to schools, and supporting reading programs, you can also help make a difference.
French, Ron. “Gov. Whitmer Launching Effort to Undercut Michigan’s Third-Grade Reading Law.” Www.Bridgemi.Com, Bridge, 29 Jan. 2020, www.bridgemi.com/talent-education/gov-whitmer-launching-effort-undercut-michigans-third-grade-reading-law. Accessed 5 Sept. 2020.