Press Release

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (Sept. 21, 2016) – Earlier today, the Michigan legislature passed House Bill 4822 (Price – R), a bill aimed at improving third-grade reading proficiency. The legislation passed the Michigan House and Senate, after spending nearly six months in a conference committee.

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.

Due to multiple ways for a student to demonstrate proficiency and several good-cause exemptions, it is unclear how many students may be retained under the legislation.

The following statement may be attributed to Amber Arellano, Executive Director of The Education Trust-Midwest:

“The early literacy legislation deserves credit for bringing much needed attention to this urgent issue in Michigan. Today, Michigan is among the lowest performing states for early literacy in the nation, and quickly falling further behind. Michigan currently places in the bottom ten states for 4th grade reading proficiency. The legislation provides a starting point, but much more is needed.

“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.

“These changes include providing effective support to educators to implement rigorous literacy strategies, and new college- and career-ready standards for educators in every Michigan classroom. For example, Florida spends about $130 million per year on K-12 Comprehensive Reading Instruction. The sunshine state has focused heavily in recent years on improving early reading and is a top ten state nationally.”

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For more information on Michigan’s educational performance and a plan

for making Michigan a top ten education state, visit:

The Education Trust-Midwest is a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization dedicated to improving outcomes for all Michigan students, especially for African American, Latino, American Indian, and low-income students. The Education Trust-Midwest believes in the power of intelligent education policy and practices — informed by data, research, and the successes of other states — to make Michigan a top ten education state for all students.