In 2016, Michigan lawmakers pass a law focused on improving reading rates for Michigan third grade students. Known as “Read by Grade Three,” the law requires schools to focus on early reading, support student learning, and communicate with parents about their children’s learning. This law:

  • Sets a goal of improve reading rates for all Michigan third-graders.
  • Takes full effect beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Requires students to be reading near grade-level to go to fourth grade.
  • May hold back in third grade students who are more than one grade behind in reading.

This guide is intended to help parents understand what this law requires and how schools are expected to support students.

Click below to learn more about key portions of Michigan’s Third Grade Reading Law or Download the guide here.

Reading Assessments

Michigan schools must assess all students in Kindergarten through third grade for their reading level proficiency at minimum three times per school year. The first assessment must be within the first 30 days of the school year.

What School Districts Must Do

  • Provide an Individual Reading Improvement Plan (IRIP) to all students who have been identified as having a reading deficiency according to an assessment.
  • Send parents of K-3 students written notice of their child’s reading difficulties early and regularly.
  • Provide professional development to K-3 teachers based on the reading needs of incoming students to better prepare them to improve their students’ reading abilities.
  • Use literacy coaches from their school district or ISD to work with teachers to improve reading instruction.
  • Provide reading intervention programs.
  • Consider offering summer reading camps with highly effective teachers of reading for students identified as having a reading deficiency.

English Language Learners

  • Students who are identified as an English Language learner, must receive specific intervention services under the Third Grade Reading Law. Typically, these students are immigrant children who are learning English for the first time.
  • Because this may be their first chance to learn English, these students will need additional support in the following areas:
    • Ongoing assessments that provide actionable data for teachers
    • Instruction in academic vocabulary and in 5 major reading components
    • Common strategies in English language development

Reading Intervention Programs

In the programs for K-3 students who exhibit a reading deficiency, school districts may include:

  • Student-specific interventions
  • Periodic screening and monitoring of student’s reading progress
  • Evidenced-based core reading instruction
  • Reading intervention including intensive development in 5 major reading components
  • “Read at Home” plans for parents that include training workshops
  • Documentation of school’s efforts to engage student’s parents/guardians of the success of the interventions or any opinions on the student’s IRIP

 

School districts must include the following for 3rd grade students who exhibit a reading deficiency as needed by an individual student:

  • Evidence-based reading instruction which has shown to improve reading achievement in one school year
  • More evidence-based reading instruction and intervention to the student than the student received in the previous school year
  • Daily targeted small group or one-on-one reading intervention
  • Periodic monitoring and screening of student’s reading progress
  • Additional evidence-based reading intervention delivered from a teacher, tutor, or volunteer with specialized reading training outside of student’s regular English language arts class
  • “Read at Home” plans for parents that include training workshops
  • Documentation of school’s efforts to engage student’s parents/guardians of the success of the interventions or any opinions on the student’s IRIP

Third Grade Reading Retention & Exemptions

In order to transition to 4th grade, students must:

  • Be less than one grade level behind in reading on the state assessment (M-STEP);
  • Perform at grade level in reading on an approved alternative assessment; or
  • Demonstrate grade level proficiency through a portfolio of work

Some students may receive an exemption from repeating 3rd grade. A student may qualify for a Good Cause Exemption, which includes:

  • Students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 plan
  • English Language Learners who have been in an English learner program for less than 3 years
  • Students that have been previously retained, have received intensive reading intervention for 2 or more years and still exhibit a reading deficiency
  • New students to the school district for less than 2 years and who did not receive an Individual Reading Improvement Plan (IRIP) in their prior school
  • Students who are proficient in all other school subjects other than reading as demonstrated through the state assessment (M-STEP) for math and through a student portfolio for social studies and science

 

The parent or legal guardian may also request an exemption based on the best interest of the student and the request must be approved by the school district Superintendent.

Individual Reading Improvement Plans (IRIP)

The Third Grade Reading Law states that every Michigan school district must develop and provide an Individual Reading Improvement Plan (IRIP) for students who are identified with a reading deficiency based on their school’s reading assessments. The IRIP is:

  • A reading plan that summarizes the reading interventions that are needed to improve the student’s reading abilities.
  • Developed by teachers, the principal, parent or legal guardian, any anyone else the team agrees should be part of the student’s reading improvement process.
  • Maintained for students as long as they continue to show a reading deficiency.
  • Updated throughout the school year to reflect the student’s reading improvement.

 

Students will be assessed at minimum three times during the school year to check for improvement.

 

IRIP’s will be updated following each assessment to continue to support the student in improving their reading scores. If the parent/guardian and their child does not receive an IRIP, and the child has been identified as having a reading deficiency, they should meet with their child’s teacher. If the child still does not receive an IRIP, the parent/guardian should call or meet with their school’s administrator.

Read at Home Plans

  • Reading plans are required by the Third Grade Reading Law and are used by parents/guardians at home during the school year and the summer break.
  • Regularly reading at home outside of school will allow students more time to practice reading with the goal of improving their reading abilities and reading scores.
  • Read at Home Plans will be developed in collaboration between parents/guardians, the child’s school and the student to support them as they work to improve reading at home.
  • The school district or public school academy will provide resources and activities for the Read at Home Plan.

What if there is no improvement?

  • The school district will notify the student’s family that the child may be retained if the student scores one or more grade levels behind the 3rd grade reading level on the state assessment.
  • A school district superintendent is the only person who can officially retain a student.
  • The parent/guardian of a child that may be retained should contact their school district’s superintendent to set up a meeting to discuss their child’s options and to see if the student qualifies for any exemptions.

What if a student is retained?

If a student is retained (held back) in the 3rd grade, the school district or public school academy is required to provide a reading intervention program with effective instructional strategies to help the student improve their reading score. The reading intervention program must include the following steps as appropriate for the need of the student:

  • Assigning the student to the one or more of the following:
  • A highly effective teacher of reading
  • The highest evaluated 3rd grade teacher in the school
  • A reading specialist
  • Evidence-based reading program that has shown to improve reading achievement in one school year
  • Reading instruction and intervention for most of the student’s time each day that provides opportunities to learn 4th grade standards for all other subject areas
  • Daily targeted small group or one-on-one reading intervention
  • Frequent screening and monitoring of student’s reading progress toward a growth target
  • “Read at Home” plans for parents that include training workshops