State Senate debates bill to remove 3rd-grade reading standardized test requirement in retention

Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 6:18 PM EST
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UPPER MICHIGAN, Mich. (WLUC) - A new bill that would remove Michigan’s third grade reading law is up for debate in the state Senate after passing the education committee.

If signed into law in its current form, it would get rid of a mandate that requires students to pass a standardized test to prove reading competency in third grade before moving to the fourth grade.

Advocates of the bill say using standardized testing as the main tool to test reading competency is unfair to students who need help.

“Holding back is not the answer, there are other tools in the toolbox that we can use to get students to where they need to be rather than retention,” Center for Change: A Northern Michigan Advocacy Group Intern, Board Member Nicholas Mitchell said.

The Executive Director for The Center For Change: A Northern Michigan Advocacy Group Joanne Galloway says repealing the law is just one step in providing resources for students.

“We really need more funds coming to our Northern Michigan schools so that we can have those resources available right at the school like a reading coach that they might with one-on-one, or additional aids in the classroom so there can be more individualized work being done with individual students,” Galloway said.

State Rep. Greg Markkanen, R-Hancock, says he would like to see more input on the legislation from educators and families.

“I think we need to keep that option on the table,” Markkanen said. “I think it is not used that much across the Upper Peninsula, but downstate obviously it is an issue. I think we just have to see what stakeholders step forward and the pros and cons of the bill.”

Markkanen says while it is rarely used in the U.P. removing options for educators is not helpful.

“To get rid of that option I don’t think is, in my opinion, and I think as a former educator I don’t feel that it is really necessary,” Markkanen said.

A date has not been set for the Senate to debate the bill. It would have to pass both the Senate and the House before heading to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk.