Michigan Department of Education 'strongly opposes' Senate Bill to retain 3rd, 4th-grade students

Posted at 9:37 PM, May 26, 2021

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Michigan Department of Education is calling out a Senate Bill that pushes the state's mandatory third-grade retention requirement to next year because of the pandemic. The legislation also penalizes third and fourth-grade students in the 2021-2022 school year.

Third graders who score 1252 or lower on the English Language Arts (ELA) portion of the M-STEP exam are retained, as required by the state's Read By Grade Three law. Under Senate Bill 265, which was amended by the Senate committee on Wednesday, fourth-graders were added to the retention policy starting next school year.

The bill was reported from the committee on a 4-2 party-line vote and sent to the full Senate for consideration, a release states.

“Third-grade retentions are bad public policy, and even more so if expanding to students in two grades,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “Local school districts need to work carefully with families to focus on reading supports and minimize retentions and the resultant adverse impact to children.”

“Doubling down on bad policy is not the answer,” Dr. Rice added. “Instead, to improve early literacy, the legislature should fund early childhood education for all eligible children in the state, smaller early elementary class sizes, one-on-one tutors for children in need, and diverse classroom reading materials for early elementary students.”