Why Dearborn Public Schools does not support Michigan’s ‘Read by Third Grade Law’

District plans to help parents with exemptions

Another teacher assists with small group instruction in a second grade classoom at Maples Elementary. Dearborn Schools has designated teachers that visit classrooms and help the homeroom teacher provide additional small group instruction. Maples was recently recognized as a national Distinguished School for its success in helping at-risk students succeed. Photo Dec. 5, 2018 (Dearborn Public Schools)

DEARBORN, Mich. – Dearborn Public Schools said it mailed letters this week to the families of all 1,500 third grade students in the district to provide them with information about the state of Michigan’s “Read by Third Grade Law" and why to district does not support it.

The Michigan Legislature passed Public Act 306 in 2016, but the law does not take full effect until this year. Current third graders will be the first ones forced to repeat that grade if their state M-STEP scores show they are a year or more behind in reading. Third graders will not start taking the test until late April.

The Dearborn school district’s letter explains that if a student scores below 1253 on the M-STEP, the state will send that child’s family a letter saying that the student should repeat third grade. State letters are expected to arrive by May 23 or 14 days after the Michigan Department of Education receives the assessment results. Parents should be aware the state plans to send the notifications via certified mail, so someone in the household will need to sign for the letter.

“Dearborn Public Schools does not believe retention is an effective way to help students master a subject or to help them succeed at school,” Dearborn Public Schools Superintendent Glenn Maleyko wrote in the letter to parents of third graders. “Our philosophy is to provide your child with quality instruction from the time they become our students."

Parents can request exemption

The district said parents who receive a state letter have 30 days to request an exemption that would allow their student to go on to fourth grade. The district’s letter also stressed that parents have a right as a student’s legal guardian to request a good cause exemption. In the days after the state notifications arrive, all Dearborn Public Schools elementary schools will hold a meeting to explain the exemption process to parents or guardians and to assist parents who want to request an exemption for their child, the district said in a news release. The law provides several reasons why a child would be allowed to continue to fourth grade.

“When a student is struggling in any subject area, we will support them with additional programs and early interventions to help that student be successful,” Maleyko wrote.

What do you think?

Do you agree with this law that a student who does not meet third-grade reading level requirements should repeat the grade? In the comments section below, tell us why you do or do not support this law.

About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.