Issue Background

3rd Grade Reading

Update Mar 25, 2016: The Senate passed HB 4822 and sent it back to the House to concur with the changes it made. MASB supports HB 4822 (S-6) and urged the House to concur with the Senate changes yesterday. Unfortunately the House did not concur and the bill was sent to conference committee.

The Senate version addressed MASB’s biggest concerns and creates intervention programs for struggling readers beginning in kindergarten and following the student until s/he is up to grade level. Among other things, it now allows the teacher and parent to be involved in the decision to retain a child that is not reading at third grade level.

It also allows a student that is proficient in other subjects to advance to fourth grade with his/her peers, but continue to receive literacy interventions. While the interventions included in the bill start in the 2016-2017 school year, the penalty of retention will not apply until those kindergarteners are third graders. This gives students equal exposure to interventions and support before facing retention.

Update Oct 16, 2015: The House passed House Bill 4822, which addresses reading proficiency by third grade by a vote of 57-48. During debate on the House Floor, a few amendments were added that did make some positive changes to the bill.  However, amendments to allow a parent, teacher and principal to determine whether a student who is still struggling with reading in third grade should be retained or allow a student who is still struggling in reading but doing fine in other subjects to advance to fourth grade, but continue to receive proper literacy interventions were not adopted.

The changes include:

  • Requiring the Department of Education to release the results of the state English language arts assessment by June 1 of each year.
  • Allow a student’s’ IEP team to determine if s/he should be exempt from the retention requirements under the bill.  This also applies to students with a 504 plan.  This was one of MASB’s requests.
  • Delays mandatory retention until the 2019-2020 school year, which would be next year’s kindergarteners.  This was also one of MASB’s requests.

While positive changes were made, concerns remain about the lack of parental involvement and state mandated retention.  These concerns led to most of the bill’s Democratic cosponsors ultimately voting against the bill.  It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Update Sept 2015: The House Education Committee passed House Bill 4822, which addresses reading proficiency by third grade on Thursday. The committee did adopt a few changes to the bill, however, the main points of MASB’s opposition were not fully addressed.

The bill delays the mandatory retention until the 2017-2018 school year, but we believe this would still be unfair to students who did not have the opportunity to benefit from the full implementation of the intervention programs in the early grades. There were also some changes made to the language around good cause exemptions for Individual Education Plans or 504 plan students, as well as English language learners.

The bill is now before the full House for consideration, but at this time it does not appear to be on a fast track. Look for more detailed information on the latest version of this bill in the next issue of DashBoard, as well as upcoming action alerts. 

Aug 2015: One of MASB's legislative priorities is to create reading intervention programs for early elementary students and to continue support for those students who are not grade level proficient, but not require retention.  At first reading of this bill, a few concerns come to mind.  First, it applies to all students who take assessments, no matter what that assessment may be.  This puts unnecessary hurdles in the way of students with an IEP who are still assessed.  Reading proficiency requirements should not impact any of our students with learning or other disabilities.  The bill is also very prescriptive about what intervention programs should contain, which raises concerns that a district with a successful program may not meet the strict requirements outlined.  Finally, it still requires retention under certain circumstances.

On a positive note, because the Governor is dedicated to raising the number of students proficient in reading, funding for intervention programs and other items related to reading proficiency was included in the School Aid budget this year.  This bill will bring more attention to the issue and hopefully make it easier for districts to access and use those funds.  

Rep. Amanda Price (R-Holland) introduced House Bill 4822 which addresses reading proficiency by third grade.  One of MASB's legislative priorities is to create reading intervention programs for early elementary students and to continue support for those students who are not grade level proficient, but not require retention. 

At first reading of this bill, a few concerns come to mind.  First, it applies to all students who take assessments, no matter what that assessment may be.  This puts unnecessary hurdles in the way of students with an IEP who are still assessed.  Reading proficiency requirements should not impact any of our students with learning or other disabilities.  The bill is also very prescriptive about what intervention programs should contain, which raises concerns that a district with a successful program may not meet the strict requirements outlined.  Finally, it still requires retention under certain circumstances.

On a positive note, because the Governor is dedicated to raising the number of students proficient in reading, funding for intervention programs and other items related to reading proficiency was included in the School Aid budget this year.  This bill will bring more attention to the issue and hopefully make it easier for districts to access and use those funds.