Students Could Be Held Back Over MEAP Scores

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Tens of thousands of third graders in Michigan could be held back under a bill in the Michigan State House.

Not because they flunked but because they didn't score well enough on the reading section of their MEAP test.

The representative who wrote the bill said it's time to make reading proficiency a top priority but parents and school administrators News 10 spoke with think holding kids back is the wrong way to do it.

"I would be very disappointed if our state went to a system where they say if you don't pass this test in third grade, on this day, you can't go to fourth grade," said Judy Tegreeny, principal at Ralya Elementary in Haslett.

"I don't think that's the right way to go."

Tegreeny said the test isn't necessarily the best way to determine if the student is proficient.

"Kids grow in spurts... their developmental age is different from their chronological age," she said. "To say that all third graders should pass a test is a disservice to our kids because by the time the majority of our kids leave fifth grade, they're all there at grade level but they got there at different times."

Supporters argue it'd be unfair to bump kids up a grade if they're not ready but parents in opposition say one test shouldn't determine a child's future.

"Some kids don't test well," said Lyn Doerr. "They may read like crazy at home and then they freeze when they're taking a test."

Linda Pietrowski's son is in the third grade at Ralya Elementary.

"Holding them back is going to delay them the rest of their lives," Pietrowski said.

She said she'd rather see those students get extra help in the classroom than be held back.

It's a sentiment echoed by William Mayes, executive director of the Michigan Association of School Administrators.

"I would like to see legislation that would help students to have the resources that would make a difference in their lives so that could have summer school, additional help on weekends, and additional help after school," Mayes said.

Last year about one-third of the third graders in Michigan, roughly 33,000, did not pass the MEAP reading test.

Mayes said you simply can't hold that many students back and reiterated the fact that programs have to be provided instead to help students. But he acknowledged the financial constraints facing school districts makes that difficult.

The legislation is being debated in a house committee right now. Lawmakers heard testimony regarding the bill Wednesday. It still has to be voted out of committee before it can come up for a vote.

What do you think of the proposed legislation, should third graders be held back based on their MEAP scores? Click the link below to vote in our News 10 poll.

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