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MI Legislature to take up bill that would repeal part of 3rd grade reading law

A child reading.

A bill introduced in the Michigan Legislature would roll back part of the state’s so-called third grade reading law.

That law says students who aren’t reading at grade level by third grade should generally be held back, though waivers and exceptions can be granted.

Many education groups applauded the bill, Senate Bill 12, including the K-12 Alliance of Michigan.

Robert McCann, the group’s executive director, said research overwhelmingly shows retention is not a good way to improve a child’s reading skills. He said what they need instead is more individualized reading support.

“The bottom line is those options need to be discussed and decisions made between parents, between teachers and between the school, not by lawmakers in Lansing,” McCann said.

“We’re still talking about making sure that kids are learning by the third grade, but it gets rid of the process that says the only solution for this is to hold the child back, and instead allows us to focus on giving kids the extra support that they need to get them caught back up.”

McCann said he’s hopeful that with new, across-the-board Democratic leadership in Lansing, the bill will become law. “Frankly, we appreciate that this new Legislature seems willing to go back and fix some of these failed policies that have been implemented in the past,” he said.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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