Michigan’s Third Grade Reading Law: What Do Parents Needs to Know?

You may know that Michigan is one of more than 30 states that has passed legislation about reading competency by third grade (commonly called third grade reading laws), but many parents and caregivers aren't sure what that means for their children. Here are some frequently asked questions about the third grade reading laws here in Michigan. Don't forget to check our Third Grade Reading Law landing page for more information and resources!

What is this law all about?

  • Michigan’s test scores on both the Michigan-based M-STEP assessment and the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) reading assessment have shown a need for attention to early reading and literacy.
  • On the 2015 NAEP Michigan was 41st in the nation for 4th grade reading achievement.
  • In an effort to boost reading achievement, Michigan lawmakers passed Public Act 306 in October 2016.
  • To help more students to be proficient by the end of 3rd grade, the law requires extra support for K-3 students who are not at grade level in reading.
  • The law also states that a child may be retained in 3rd grade if he is one or more grade levels behind in reading at the end of 3rd grade.

What do I need to know as a parent?

  • Your child’s reading progress will be closely monitored.
  • If your child is not reading where expected a plan to improve reading will be created. This includes:
    • Extra instruction or support in areas of need
    • Ongoing checks on reading progress
    • A read at home plan
  • If you are notified your child may be retained you have the right to meet with school officials and to request an exemption if in the best interest of your child.
  • You have the right and are encouraged to be involved every step of the way!

How will this affect my child?

In grades K-3:

  • Your school will use to identify students that need extra help with reading. These students:
    • Are at risk of not passing the M-STEP ELA (English Language Arts) in 3rd grade
    • Are not reading at the expected level for his or her grade level and time of year
  • If your child is identified as needing additional supports (extra help), your school will provide your child with an individual reading improvement plan (IRIP). This means your child’s teacher and school will work with your child to find where your child needs support in his or her reading development and create a plan to support him or her.
  • If your child has an individual reading improvement plan:
    • The extra supports in your child’s reading improvement plan will occur in small groups during the school day.
    • Your child will not miss regular reading instruction.
    • Part of your child’s reading plan will include a read at home plan that engages you and your child in reading and writing outside of the school day. This may include training or tips on how to work with your child at home.
    • Your child may also be encouraged to participate in summer reading programs.
    • Your child’s teacher will also receive supports in evidence-based effective practices in teaching reading and writing.

In 3rd Grade:

  • A student will not be promoted to 4th grade unless they:
    • Receive a reading score of less than 1 year behind on grade 3 ELA state assessment (M-STEP) or
    • Show a grade 3 reading level on another test approved by superintendent of public instruction or
    • Show a grade 3 reading level through a portfolio, or collection, of student work in all grade 3 ELA standards.
  • A child will only be required to repeat 3rd grade once.
  • You will be notified by the state and district if your child may be required to be retained.
  • You as a parent have the right:
    • To ask for a “good cause exemption” with the school or district within 30 days once notified.
    • To request a meeting with school officials (principal, etc.)

Are there any exceptions?

  • Considerations may be made if your child:
    • Has an IEP or 504 plan.
    • Is an English language learner (second language learner).
    • Has had intensive intervention for 2 years and was previously retained.
    • Has been enrolled in current district for less than 2 years and did not receive reading support.
    • Is grade level in all other subjects.
    • It is in the best interest of the student and requested within 30 days
  • If a request is made, the district superintendent will make a decision in writing and notify parents.
  • The decision will be shared at least 30 days before school begins.
  • The decision is final.

What happens if my child repeats 3rd grade?

  • Class will be with a highly rated teacher and/or reading specialist.
  • Most of the day will be spent on reading instruction but some 4th grade standards will also be taught.
  • Students will still have an independent reading improvement plan and get extra support.
  • Student progress will be closely monitored.
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