Current Michigan law dictates that 3rd grade children who are more than one grade level behind be held back to retake 3rd grade instead of proceeding to 4th. [Ref. 1] This is also called retention. (There are ways to prevent this within the law, but retention is the default.) This is cause for concern, as contrary to historical findings, research is starting to come out that suggests a causal link between being held back a grade and being 60% less likely to graduate high school, [Ref. 2] or that despite positive effects, some of them are fleeting and there are signs of possible trouble in later grades. [3]

We’re advocating two things to try to improve the situation:

  1. Repeal the retention legislation – Senate Bill 0633 will do this. [4]
  2. Increase funding for literacy coaches and support, such as proposed by Governor Whitmer’s 2020 budget recommendation. [5]

Please call these GOP members of the Education & Career Readiness committee.

Senator Lana Theis (chair)
(517) 373-2420
Senator Jon Bumstead
(517) 373-1635
Senator Ken Horn
(517) 373-1760
Senator Jim Runestad
(517) 373-1758
Senator Kevin Daley
(517) 373-1777

Example script for calling representatives

Hi, I’m ___________, and I’m calling about the 3rd grade reading law. My understanding is that current state literacy coach funding is inadequate, and that studies suggest that retention does more harm than good. Please consider supporting Senate Bill 0633 to repeal the retention law, and supporting the Governor’s proposal to increase literary coach funding so that we can try a different, less harmful approach to the problem. Thank you.