DEARBORN, Mich. – Parents of 1,500 third graders in the Dearborn Public Schools district are set to get a concerning letter in the mail that says if their child gets a low store on the MSTEP test, they should repeat the third grade.
“It could be a good or bad thing, depending on your child,” said Dr. Jill Chochol, of Dearborn Public Schools.
Third-grade students in Dearborn who perform poorly on the MSTEP will not be required to stay back a year. District officials said they don’t support the Read by Third Grade Law, which passed the Michigan Legislature in 2016.
Current third-grade students will be the first ones forced to repeat the grade if they score poorly. School officials said they will work with parents who want their children to continue onto the fourth grade.
“We will follow the law, but we do not necessarily feel retention is the best intervention,” Chochol said. “The social and emotional consequences are really devastating for kids.”
Parents had mixed reactions on the district’s decision.
“I think some kids -- in the fifth or sixth grade, it’s going to catch up to them,” one parents said.
“My son doesn’t like to read,” another parent said. “It’s hard to force him, but he does well in every other subject, so they should not be forced to stay back.”
District officials said there will be resources in the fourth grade to help students who struggle to read, including targeted daily small group instructions with specialists, teacher training and an emphasis on read-at-home programs.
“My hope is that kids are properly prepared and advanced through when they are ready,” Chochol said.
Third-grade students will begin taking the test in April. Parents can expect letters from the state in May, and they will have 30 days to request exemptions.