In 2016, the Michigan Legislature passed Public Act 306 to ensure that by the end of third grade all students are reading at or close to grade level. (To find out more about the Read by Third Grade Law and the district’s work to further support students and inform parents, please see the Read by Third Grade Task Force blog.)
The Read by Third Grade law was supposed to take full effect last school year (2019-20) with M-STEP tests being used to recommend students who should repeat third grade because they were behind in reading. However, the spring 2020 school closure canceled M-STEP testing; therefore, no students were retained under the law this school year.
However, the Read by Third Grade law is still in effect, and current third grade students could be recommended for retention if the state tests show they are more than a grade level behind in reading this spring. The Michigan Department of Education, as well as school superintendents across the state, have advocated for suspending this part of the law for at least this year due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, state legislators have not acted to suspend any part of the Read by Third Grade law.
If you receive a letter from the state of Michigan saying that your child should be retained in third grade based on their M-STEP score, you have the right as their legal guardian to request a good cause exemption. If you receive one of these letters from the state please contact your child’s school so they can explain the good cause exemption process. Our schools will support parents in filing an exemption within the required 30 days of receiving the letter. If approved, an exemption request will allow your child to continue on to fourth grade. Please remember, Dearborn Public Schools is not requiring retention. The State of Michigan might recommend retention under the current law.
Dearborn Public Schools does not believe retention is an effective way to help students master a subject or to help them succeed at school. Our philosophy is to provide your child with quality instruction from the time they become our students. When a student is struggling in any subject area, we will support them with additional programs and early interventions to help that student be successful. The district’s goal is to partner with parents to ensure students make as much progress as possible. Any decision to keep a student in the same grade will be made thoughtfully by the parents, teacher, and administrator working together in the best interests of the student.