MI Lawmakers Focus on Early Literacy

The Michigan House of Representatives has turned its attention to policies aimed at helping Michigan schoolchildren become better readers by the end of third grade, with hearings on House Bill 4822(Price – R) over the past two weeks, and an additional hearing and possible vote scheduled for Thursday.

Studies show that if students are not proficient in reading by the conclusion of third grade, they are four times less likely to graduate from high school. Students who are able to read well by third grade are much more likely to finish school on time and find stable employment, and less likely to rely on government assistance.

In 2013, Michigan students were 38th in the nation for 4th grade reading proficiency. As projected in our recent report, Michigan Achieves: Becoming a Top Ten Education State, Michigan is on track to drop to 44th in nation by 2030, if we do nothing. If Michigan is going to become a top ten education state by 2030, we should start with what we know is essential for success in life and school: making sure that all Michigan students can read well by third grade.

While the current legislation rightly focuses on the critical need for Michigan to focus on early literacy, concerns have been raised around ensuring that our teachers have the training and resources to improve instruction, and the possible retention of students.

Parents Know: Teaching Quality Matters!

As teaching quality is the most important in-school factor for improving student achievement, most parents think that teaching should be more professionalized. According to new poll results from PDK/Gallup, 95 percent of Americans believe that the quality of teachers is very important for improving public schools. Additionally, about three-quarters think that teachers should be required to demonstrate skill through a board certification, similar to what is required for doctors and lawyers.

The results come as the Michigan House of Representatives continues to debate improving classroom instruction through quality evaluations and support for Michigan educators – an issue that our schools and teachers need resolved, as school is back in session.

“Strong systems of educator evaluation and support have been key to the success of leading education states, such as Tennessee,” saidAmber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest. “For Michigan to become a top ten education state, every student – regardless of where they live, family income, race or background – deserves a great teacher. A high-quality, research-based system of educator evaluation and support is a critical part of supporting teachers and improving learning.”

A focus on effective teaching for every Michigan student was a key recommendation in The Education Trust-Midwest’s recent report,Michigan Achieves: Becoming a Top Ten Education State. We have also called for a high-quality system of educator evaluation and support to the State Board of Education, and to the state legislature.

Action Needed: Michigan On Track to Drop to 44th Nationally in Early Literacy











Michigan students are currently on track to drop from 38th to 44thnationally, in early literacy by 2030. To become a top ten state in early literacy by 2030, Michigan must outpace the national average improvement rate.

Capitol Update

House Committee on Education Considers Bill Aimed at improving third grade reading. Hearings in the House of Representatives on the legislation, House Bill 4822 (Price – R), which enjoys broad bipartisan support, began earlier this month. Another hearing – and possible vote – is scheduled for Thursday, September 22 at 9am in Room 521 of the House Office Building.

Plan to address Detroit Schools announced by Rep. Tim Kelly (R – Saginaw). The plan would establish education savings accounts to fund education in a public or private school – a practice currently prohibited by the Michigan constitution. The Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren outlined a plan earlier this year, and Governor Snyder is expected to announce the details of his plan this fall.

Public comment sessions on updated science and social studies standards ongoing. The remaining two sessions will be on Monday and Wednesday of next week in Flint and Lansing, respectively. Full details are available here.

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