Early Literacy Legislation a Start; Targeted Investments Needed

Last week, the Michigan legislature passed House Bill 4822, (Price – R), aimed at improving early literacy in Michigan. This is an important issue deserving of serious attention, as Michigan is currently among the bottom ten states for elementary reading proficiency, and falling further behind.

In a statement on passage of the legislation, Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest said, “Now the question is, how can this legislation be thoughtfully leveraged as a step forward for dramatically raising students’ literacy levels in the state? Leading education states provide effective research-based strategies that Michigan leaders can learn from, if they are open to new approaches to improving our state’s teaching and learning.”

The legislation requires that:

  • schools use diagnostic tools in early grades to identify struggling readers.
  • schools implement a range of strategies for better supporting early literacy instruction, including professional development, reading coaches and small group instruction.
  • beginning in the 2019-20 school year, students who are not at or near reading proficiency by the end of third grade will be retained, unless they fall under a “good-cause” exemption. Good-cause exemptions are available for students with disabilities, recent English learners, and approved exemptions at a parent’s request.

The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk, where Governor Snyder is expected to sign the legislation.

Noteworthy News

Read what we’re reading daily at or follow @EdTrustMidwest.

Capital Update

Early literacy bill goes to Governor’s desk. After spending six months in a conference committee, House Bill 4822 (Price – R) passed out of committee and cleared both chambers. The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature. EdTrust-Midwest’s statement is available at

Bills to reduce zero-tolerance policies in schools pass Senate committee. A bipartisan package of bills, HBs 56185621, which would increase a school’s discretion before suspending or expelling a student, promote restorative justice practices, and streamline reporting requirements, passed the Senate Committee on Judiciary last week. The bills now go to the senate floor, where they will likely be considered for passage later this fall.

Special education package to prohibit use of seclusion and restraint advances in the House. A bipartisan package of bills, HBs 54095418, strongly supported by Lt. Governor Calley, was voted out of the House Committee on Education last week. The bills prohibit the use of seclusion and physical restraint of students, except in emergency situations, require data collection and staff training, and requires the development of state and local district and charter school policies for complying with the new laws.

Legislature in recess. After returning to Lansing in September, the Michigan Legislature is now in recess. The House will return on October 19 and the Senate will return October 18-20.

Tweet of the Week