Early Literacy

Research shows that early literacy is hugely important for future student success. If students cannot read on grade-level by the end of third grade, they are more likely to drop out of school, exhibit behavioral problems and have less academic success than their peers. 

Despite Michigan leaders’ stated intentions to prioritize early literacy, the state’s overall lack of a strategic, coherent system of implementing best practices far too often left it largely to chance for students to get the instruction they needed to become strong early readers. 

In 2021-2022, 5,600 Michigan students received reading scores low enough that they could be required to repeat third grade a 20 percent increase in retention-eligible students. Worse yet are the disparities: Black students were 4.5 times as likely to be retention-eligible than White students. 

As leading education states demonstrate, Michigan will require innovative approaches in systems change and greater thought and attention to aligned and coherent standards, assessment, instruction and capacity-building and more effective implementation to reach this ambitious goal. Despite removing its controversial retention requirement in 2023, Michigan’s current investment in early literacy strategies do not reflect such alignment and coherence, resulting in problematic implementation for educators and principals, especially in high-poverty schools where students often are most behind in reading.

It is vitally important to future learning and success that all students be able to read. The Education Trust-Midwest will continue our advocacy for more investments and strategies to help boost literacy rates, among all grade levels but particularly for the early grades. 

results in Early Literacy.