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Data shows 3rd grade reading law could snag 4% of Michigan students

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Updated research suggests thousands of Michigan third graderscould be forced to repeat the grade because they don’t read well enough.

This is the first class to come under the retention requirement laid out in Michigan’s 2016 third grade reading law.

The Education Policy Innovation Collaborative at Michigan State University looked at reading scores on Michigan's standardized test, which is used to flag students for retention.

Researchers originally looked at data from the 2017-2018 school year. Recently, they updated their report with data from the 2018-2019 school year. 

Co-Director Katharine Strunk says 2% to 4% in past years would have had to repeat the third grade. She says the rates were significantly higher for African-American Latino and students living in urban areas.     

But Strunk says this year’s class may be different.

“This year’s third grade cohort could be tremendously impacted by whatever school districts are doing,” says Strunk. “It could be a huge reduction in that number or potentially it might not change at all or could increase. We just don’t know yet.”

Parents can apply for exemptions from the law to allow their children to move on to the fourth grade. By some estimates, more than half the students flagged for retention may qualify for being exempted.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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