Third Graders Head Back to Class with New Law in Effect
This year third graders are heading into the classroom with a new law in effect: Read by Grade Three (RBG3).
In 2016, the Michigan Legislature passed the law requiring schools to identify learners who are struggling with reading and writing and to provide additional help. The law states that, starting this school year, third graders may be required to repeat third grade if they are more than one grade level behind.
Experts say third grade is a crucial time for young readers as it’s the dividing line between learning to read and reading to learn.
According to the 2019 Kids Count in Michigan Data Book approximately 56 percent of Michigan third graders tested below proficiency levels in reading, based on M-STEP scores.
However, when it comes to the new law Vanessa Keesler, deputy superintendent shared that M-STEP performance levels such as proficient and not proficient “do not necessarily tell us if the student is a grade level behind in terms of their reading.” To comply with the RBG3 law, a unique and separate cut score for the third grade English Language Arts assessment was established specifically to measure reading as outlined in the law.
There are “good cause exemptions” to the policy available for some students. Schools can decide to pass a student if they are an English language learner, if they have special needs or if a parent appeals the decision.
Michigan State University’s Education Policy Innovative Collaborative (EPIC) has provided the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) with research on potential retention rates linked to the new policy.
Data at a glance:
Between 2 and 5 percent of third graders may be retained as a result of Read by Grade 3.
Between 7 and 11 percent of African American students may be retained.
Up to 10 percent of special education students may be retained.
Between 12 and 20 percent of students in partnership schools may be retained. (Partnership schools are those identified by the state as low performing, and each has an agreement with the state that includes specific growth and achievement goals intended to improve academic achievement levels.)
With the new policy, if a child is held back to repeat the third grade, MDE shares that the school will provide a reading program that is designed to improve the child’s specific reading concern. The child may also be assigned to a highly effective teacher of reading, a reading specialist, an evidence-based reading program, daily small group instruction, ongoing assessments or other specialized reading help.
The law has stirred some controversy.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer has said she wants to overturn the Read by Grade Three law, calling it “destructive.”
According to Chalkbeat, the new state superintendent Dr. Michael Rice shared similar sentiments with the State Board of Education during his interview.
“We have to improve reading in Michigan,” Rice told the board. “But retention is not good for children. Our answer has to be better than ‘This is a bad law.’ We need to up our game.”
Starting this fall, through the support of the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, the Education Trust-Midwest and Detroit Parent Network will be sharing toolkits and workshops to serve as resources to parents in navigating the new law.
Join CMF’s P-20 Education Affinity Group as the conversation around Read by Grade Three continues at CMF’s Annual Conference in the breakout session: Opportunities to Boost Student Literacy on Tuesday, October 8.
Cradle-to-Career Educational Campus Opens in Detroit
Detroit’s newest public school opens next week as part of a cradle-to-career educational campus at Marygrove College.
The School at Marygrove and the entire P-20 campus is the result of a landmark partnership between The Kresge Foundation, the Marygrove Conservancy, the University of Michigan School of Education (SOE), Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD), Starfish Family Services and IFF.
The P-20 partnership is one of the first of its kind in the nation and is supported by a $50 million commitment by The Kresge Foundation, the largest philanthropic investment into a Detroit neighborhood in history.
As Kresge has shared, the campus will include a new early childhood education center, a new K-12 school and the introduction of an innovative teacher education training program modeled after hospital residency programs.
The U-M SOE is offering the new teacher residency program at the campus to help prepare newly certified teachers.
Starting next week, the campus will welcome its inaugural 9th Grade Academy, which will be operated by DPSCD.
“All of us believe that the P-20 partnership will revive the spirit of the Marygrove campus while creating multiple pipelines of talent for all DPSCD schools,” Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of DPSCD said. “Our partnership will one day be a national model and part of the story of how the school district was rebuilt to provide children with the education they deserve.”
The foundation shares that the new public school is designed to develop critical thinkers and community-minded citizens who have the skills and knowledge to be makers and leaders in the 21st century. The curriculum has a project and place-based engineering and design focus to help students solve complex problems.
“This new 21st century educational model promises to not only produce high achieving and community-minded students, but also to invigorate a renewed faith and interest in this community which is integral to Detroit’s inclusive recovery,” Rip Rapson, president and CEO of Kresge said.
Following this year’s freshman class, DPSCD plans to add a grade each year to the campus until it becomes K-12.
The foundation says once the school and early childhood education center are at full capacity the campus will serve more than 1,000 Detroit children who live in surrounding neighborhoods.
The early childhood education center is expected to open in fall 2020.
New School Year Brings New Leadership and Changes
This week CMF members and others around the state will have an opportunity to meet the new state superintendent, Dr. Michael Rice.
On Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is hosting a reception and invites foundations to join in welcoming the new education leader.
Rice was appointed to the position in May after serving as superintendent of Kalamazoo Public Schools since 2007.
Now at the helm of the MDE, Rice told Michigan Radio and MLive a few of his top priorities include: school funding, early childhood education, literacy, career and technical education and addressing teacher shortages.
Rice told MLive in a recent interview that “investing in public education will help the entire state.”
When it comes to school funding, Rice also serves on the steering and technical committee of the School Finance Research Collaborative, which has provided research and recommendations for equitable school funding in Michigan.
Rice is starting the job amidst the implementation of the new Read by Grade Three law and our state’s new A-to-F school grading system, among other changes.
As Chalkbeat reports, at the August State Board of Education meeting it was shared that MDE will not have the new A-to-F grading system in place by the September 1 deadline.
MDE said data needed to calculate the grades won’t be available until after the deadline.
The Legislature passed the new grading system last December. It will be one of two accountability systems in place for Michigan schools, as an accountability system already exists under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
"After multiple conversations with officials at the U.S. Department of Education, they have confirmed that the system required by state law will not conform with the federal law requirements," Martin Ackley, spokesperson for MDE told The Detroit News. "The result is Michigan schools will be subject to two stand-alone accountability systems, with similar, but slightly different criteria for identification of low-performing schools."
The new system is expected to roll out later in the school year.
Also anticipated later this school year is a set of research- and data-based recommendations to improve Michigan’s pre-K-12 education system coming from Launch Michigan, the statewide coalition of diverse organizations, including CMF, who are working together in support of improving student outcomes. Launch Michigan announced earlier this summer that it is accelerating the development of targeted and actionable recommendations to meet the request of legislative leadership. Their report is expected to be given to Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature by December 1.