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Advocates against Read by Grade Three law applaud effort to repeal

Posted at 9:46 AM, Jan 20, 2023

LANSING, Mich. — Work is being done in the Michigan Legislature to repeal a controversial law, one that advocates for its repeal tell me has derailed the educational careers of more than 500 students just this last school year. It is Michigan’s Read by Grade Three Law, a Republican effort that one Democratic senator has introduced legislation to repeal.

“It creates a stigma that they’re not smart enough to keep up, it creates a stigma that lasts with them their entire academic career," said Robert McCann, executive director of the K-12 Alliance.

He said instead of the law being an incentive to improve, “it actually keeps them falling further behind."

Additionally, he said the law disproportionately affects students across the state.

“If you look around the state and you see where the students are retained, it is often in areas where there are higher levels of poverty and that means we are targeting students that need the most help and instead punishing them and holding them back further," McCann said.

Democratic state Sen. Dayna Polehanki introduced Senate Bill 12 earlier this month, which would repeal the state’s Read by Grade Three Law. She was unavailable to comment on the new legislation, but McCann tells me it accomplishes something opponents of the legislation have fought for since its implementation.

If it passes and the law is repealed, it won’t take away every aspect of Read by Grade Three.

“If the bill passes this way, it's leaving in place the testing requirement to help us identify students that are falling behind, because that's still important," McCann said. "What the big change is, is it eliminates that requirement piece of holding kids back and instead would allow schools to work one on one with the parent and the teacher to identify what that child needs.”

The bill still has to jump through multiple hoops before it can reach the governor’s desk.

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