School Beat: What Does the New Third Grade Reading Law Mean for My Child?

By Sharon Wells

Principal of Lakes Elementary and Director of Reading


Strong literacy skills are needed for students to be college and career ready.  In 2016, the Michigan Legislature passed House Bill 4822 to ensure that children who exit third grade are reading at grade level.  Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, students must be proficient in reading on the state assessment in order to be promoted to fourth grade.  This part of the law will apply when this year’s first graders reach third grade.

The legislation requires that each school administers an ongoing assessment to identify each child’s reading progress.  These assessments will be administered three times per year and the first one will be done within thirty school days of school starting.  If a child shows evidence of a significant reading deficiency, the district will provide an Individual Reading Plan (IRP) to address their areas of need and provide training and resources for parents and guardians.

Rockford Public Schools has a comprehensive Response to Intervention program that has been in place for over a decade.  Many of the requirements required by this law are currently part of our RtI process.  What the district will be adding to this process is the creation for formal IRPs for our students who reach a Tier III intervention level.  This will be implemented with parent input and parents will receive frequent updates of their child’s literacy progress.  Students will receive intensive intervention, outside of the classroom reading instruction, and will be closely monitored.

Kindergarten, first, second, and third grade teachers will also receive additional professional development and resources to support their literacy programs.  The State of Michigan has provided additional early literacy funding grants in order to support the implementation of this new law.

Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, if your third grader has not shown evidence of meeting the State’s expectations for third grade literacy (a year or more behind), you will be notified by the state and the district of the retention.  You will always have the right to request a good cause exemption within 30 days of notification.  There are numerous other exemptions as well.  Some of these include students with an IEP or 504 plan, English Language Learner students, students who are at grade level in all other subjects, students previously retained, and students enrolled in the district less than two years without evidence of prior reading support.  Superintendents also have the right to provide exemptions.

Rockford Public Schools has great pride in our early literacy and Response to Intervention programs.  Our early intervention approach has been highly successful and will continue to support our students under the parameters of this new law.