Third grade reading law takes effect

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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - With students back in school reading skills will be a main focus in elementary classrooms this year due to the new third grade reading law going into effect.

The goal of the law is improving early literacy, so students will have up until the third grade to prove they're at the right reading level or they could be held back.

Starting in kindergarten and going through third grade students will be formally tested in reading at least three times a year, including once within the first thirty days.

Part of the reason the state made the change was because many students were testing low in reading proficiency on the M-STEP. Last spring about half of the third graders in the state didn't get passing scores in reading, either scoring not proficient or partially proficient.

At the Ingham intermediate school district teachers have been making changes to the way they teach reading. The district says its goal is to determine which students are struggling so they can help well before they reach third grade.

"It's like an individualized reading plan and there are some safeguards that are put in place so they'll be tested and they'll be looked at for interventions," explained Laura Colligan, the Director of Student Instructional Services. "What we're really looking at is a pro-active model so that the kids that are in kindergarten, first grade, second grade that aren't proficient, we already have some steps in place"

Parents will be kept in the loop. The law requires parents be given written notice if their child has a "reading deficiency," plus they'll be sent work to do at home to help their child improve.

Students in third grade now aren't at risk of being held back, that part of the law doesn't go into effect until the 2019-2020 school year.

Schools will be looking at this on a case by case basis and even if a third grader is behind in reading superintendents have the option to grant exemptions in some instances.