Last week, I voted no on House Bill 4822, a bill intended to increase literacy among Michigan’s third-graders. While this bill has many positive provisions — identifying students’ reading difficulties early, developing individual intervention plans, employing research-based literacy improvement strategies, and increasing training and coaching for teachers in literacy instruction — I could not support a bill that includes mandatory retention for third-graders who are unable to pass a standardized test. 

Research clearly shows that retaining a student is not an effective strategy to improve student achievement. In fact, data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that retention does not reliably boost student achievement, and that retained students are much more likely to drop out of school than students who have not been retained.

Additionally, along with my concerns about mandatory retention, I am concerned that this legislation will add additional financial strain to our already underfunded schools. Although money was appropriated in this year’s budget to help districts pay for third-grade reading programs, there is no guarantee future budgets will include such funding, which may result in an unfunded mandate for early literacy intervention.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I work diligently every day to improve our education system, and fully funding our schools continues to be my top priority.