Michigan Report Details State’s Third Grade Reading Goals


A legislative workgroup appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has released a report suggesting that third-graders in the state should be among the most improved readers in the nation and that the group would like to see the state lead the nation in third-grade reading proficiency by 2025.

The report, released by the Third Grade Reading Workgroup, suggested that schools in the state begin to reserve 90 minutes of each school day for reading instruction for students in kindergarten through the third grade, with additional time set aside for struggling readers.  The report states that every student should be evaluated in order to discover their strengths and weaknesses in terms of reading.

In addition, training should be provided to all teachers across Michigane, including those currently enrolled in preparation programs, to help students who need extra instruction.

“We’re not doing as well in Michigan as we should be,” Snyder said during a news conference today. “We’ve been making some progress. But to be blunt, we’re falling behind the rest of the country.”

Rep. Adam Zemke said that evaluations would come in the form of standardized testing, reports Kyle Feldscher for mlive.com.

“(They’re) essentially five-minute check-ins,” Zemke said. “We’re recommending they do this because those are instruments that are not stressful to students, they’re not time consuming … and because they provide immediate feedback in a form teachers can use to drive their instruction.”

Snyder focused on literacy in Michigan, with budget recommendations of investing heavily in increasing third-grade reading abilities across the state, as scores from the previously-used MEAP exam showed 70% of students were proficient in reading at the third-grade level in the 2013-14 school year.

Meanwhile, national data taken from results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress suggests that 69% of students in the state are not proficient in reading by the beginning of the fourth grade.  Michigan scores on the exam rank 40th in the nation, and a report released last month suggests that student scores in the state will continue to fall if nothing is done to help the situation, writes Lori Higgins for The Detroit Free Press.

The Legislature approved a budget this week that includes $31 million for an early literacy initiative.

While there had been some discussion concerning holding back any student unable to read by the third grade, the group opted not to include that recommendation in their final report.  However, a “smart protection” for students who are a year or two behind is included, allowing those students to continue to receive third-grade reading instruction the following year while they receive fourth-grade instruction in all other subjects.

Recommendations offered by the group focus on intervening early on, as third grade is viewed as the turning point for students.  Prior to that year, students are learning to read, whereas after the third grade students begin to read to learn.