Psychological Impact of Third Grade Retention Bill Questioned

By: Alyssa Fenske Email
By: Alyssa Fenske Email

LANSING (WILX)-- Michigan lawmakers want to help third graders become better readers, but at what cost?

The physiological impact of holding back a third grader has some state representatives asking questions before they pass a reading retention bill.

"Kids cannot be experimented with. These are kids that can be affected. Kids are five times more likely to not graduate if they are retained," said Rep. Theresa Abed (D) Eaton Rapids.

But Rep. Amanda Price (R) Grand Haven, who wrote the bill, believes it's necessary.

"The fact that a third of our third graders aren't reading at grade level in the state of Michigan is the reason behind the bill," said Price.

Price says she believes the bill could have a positive impact on graduation rates.

"The statistics of children who can't read, in terms of high school graduation, are very similar to the statistics of children being retained."

Both sides believe the legislation will pass, but Abed is worried the government is overreaching .

"To have a one size fits all mandate, I think is looking beyond that we are dealing with children. Children, that for a variety of reasons may not be reading proficiently," said Abed.

But Price points out, the bill is tied to another that would give reading assistance to grades K through 3.

"We're going to assess the kids in all those grades. If they are not doing grade level work, they will have special interventions to get them there."

It's possible the House could pass the bill this week before holiday vacation. If it does pass, the bill still needs to be approved in the Senate before it goes to Governor Snyder.

The idea is to start phasing it in over the next few years, starting with the 2014-15 first grade class.

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