Why are we playing politics with such an important issue? Unless we make reading proficiency a top priority for K-3rd grades, our kids have no chance! Let’s do this!
The number of Michigan third graders reading at the appropriate grade level continues to decline – down to 44.1% in 2016 from 50% in 2014.This is a serious problem, with serious implications.According to a report by Education Trust-Midwest released earlier this month, Michigan saw the largest decline (at 5.9 percentage points) in reading proficiency among a dozen states using similar testing standards; the next closest was Delaware with a 2.5 percentage point drop.
Legislation Gov. Snyder signed in October 2016 requires that beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, third-graders who are not reading at grade level cannot be promoted to fourth grade. If today’s numbers stay the same or continue to decline, more than half of all Michigan third graders would be held back.And the problem is not one that affects only students who attend schools in the state’s urban cores such as Lansing or Detroit: It’s across the board.Between 2014 and 2016, reading proficiency among students from low-income families (those eligible for free or reduced price lunches) declined 6.2 percentage points to 29.1% while students from higher-income families declined 6.4 percentage points to 60.4% proficient
.Also according to the study, every demographic of student in Michigan showed a decline in reading proficiency from 2014 to 2016: A 6.5 percentage point drop to 51.7% for white students A 6.3 percentage point drop to 63.4% for Asian students A 5.2 percentage point drop to 32% for Hispanic students A 3.3 percentage point drop to 19.9% for black students”The need to get all children reading at grade level is urgent,” said Martin Ackley, spokesman for Michigan’s Department of Education.Read more: In reading, Michigan students show biggest decline.
Michigan needs to look to schools in leading states such as Massachusetts, Florida, Tennessee and Alabama and mimic what they are doing – namely providing greater support to teachers and holding schools more accountable.In Michigan, Grand Rapids Public Schools and Wyoming Public Schools are pointed to as schools with significant levels of low-income students that are making marked progress in recent years.
In the Lansing school district, administrators and educators are working on three main fronts: 1) enrolling pre-K students at the same school they’ll be out for K-3 for continuity; 2) engaging K-3 teachers with professional training to help them better promote early reading proficiency; and 3) a core reading program for all students to learn reading with more consistency.