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Michigan’s read by third-grade law takes effect this school year.

Students who can’t read on a third-grade level before the fourth grade could be held back.

“The intent of the law is if kids are so far behind by the third grade, after all that intervention from K through second, that may be giving them an extra year to catch up before they move on to fourth grade for reading. It would be beneficial to them,” said Joshua Cowen, co-director for Education Policy Innovation Collaborative.

Cowen studies the results of the standardized M-STEP exam. He said between two to five percent of third-graders are already scoring below their literacy level. He said those numbers only increased in urban populations and charter schools.

TV5 talked to some local parents who said they’re not sure whether or not students should have to repeat the third grade.

“I don’t agree with it. I think that when you do that you’re telling them that they’re going to be a failure for the rest of their lives,” said Theresa Harris, Saginaw mother.

“I think it’s a good idea. I think it’s better to get it out of the way when they’re younger so that they’re not more socially impacted the older they get,” said Jewell Hamilton, Head Start employee.

However, Cowen said there are ways that parents can file good-cause exemptions with the school to prevent retention.

Children who move on to higher grades will still receive extra attention.

“Even kids who are promoted to fourth grade, who are identified for retention because they were scoring below grade in proficiency, those kids would still under law be receiving additional support for reading in fourth grade,” Cowen said.

Copyright 2019 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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