Michigan’s Third-Grade Reading Law

In October 2016, Governor Rick Snyder signed into law the requirement that third-grade students meet reading proficiency requirements to be promoted to the fourth grade, beginning in the 2019-20 school year. Specifically, students must either score within one grade-level of third-grade reading proficiency on the state assessment; demonstrate third-grade-level reading proficiency on an alternative standardized reading assessment or through a student portfolio; or receive a “good cause” exemption. Students may receive a “good cause” exemption for several reasons including special education or English language learner student provisions, prior retentions, school enrollment duration and record of prior intervention, or timely teacher or family requests.

Students may only be retained once for reading deficiencies.

Michigan’s third-grade reading law also requires districts to adopt reading assessment and intervention systems to support all students in grades K-3 in their progress towards proficiency. These include assessing all students in grades K-3 at least three times a year to identify struggling readers and then providing targeted, evidence-based literacy interventions to ensure struggling students improve by third grade. Families must be notified if their child is at risk of retention and be included in the creation of their student’s individual reading improvement plan.

Additionally, Michigan’s third-grade reading law requires the Michigan Department of Education to develop a literacy coaching model. Early literacy coaches must provide targeted professional development to K-3 teachers around early literacy instruction, student data analysis, and differentiated instruction and intervention strategies.

Photo: Parkview Elementary – Wyoming, MI (Rex Larsen)