Education
9:00 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Should state flunk 3rd graders who can't read?

A state House panel could vote this week on a bill that would require schools to hold back 3rd graders who do not pass a state reading test.

Supporters of House Bill 5111 cite what’s known as “social promotion” – or allowing students to move to the next grade regardless of whether they have learned all the necessary material. They say students learn to read from grades one-through-three. After that, they’re reading to learn.  

“I’d like to get this through and enacted so that we can make sure our kids are prepared for fourth grade and can adequately read,” said state Rep. Lisa Lyons (R-Alto), who chairs the House Education Committee.

Schools would have been required to hold back more than 30,000 third graders this school year if the measure was already in place.  As the bill is currently written, it would take effect next school year.

But opponents of the measure say the decision to hold a child back should not be based on one standardized test. They say it should be up to local schools.

“This would mandate. So no matter what the situation, no matter what was going on for this child, it was mandated. That’s what’s wrong,” said Rep. Theresa Abed (D-Grand Ledge).

“And I think we keep taking away any ability of our schools to function in an independent matter.”

*Correction - An earlier version of this story had the last quote in the story attribued to Rep. Lisa Lyons.