LANSING, Mich., Feb. 28, 2023 — State Rep. Nate Shannon (D-Sterling Heights) presented House Bill 4020 today, in the Education Committee, to change the third-grade reading law. The initial third-grade reading legislation was put together to aid students struggling to achieve their grade level reading goals after Michigan experienced low reading scores in 2016. The bill required schools to identify learners who are struggling with reading and writing and provide them additional help. The law also stated that third-graders who are more than one grade level behind must repeat the grade beginning with the 2019-20 school years.

“Everyone deserves a fair chance at education, and it starts with legislation that actually works. Students come from many different backgrounds. I know many individuals who struggled with reading at a young age, some neurodivergent, some with tough family backgrounds. Making a student repeat a grade doesn’t fix the reading problem — it just makes that student’s school experience tougher,” Shannon said. “What that student needs is more assistance, more help and more tools. My bill gives the student the chance to continue to move with their fellow friends and classmates to the next grade level, while also granting them the opportunity to continue to receive the true help they need.”

The bill shapes Michigan’s education system by taking away the parts of law that aren’t assisting students. The introduced bill will eliminate the requirement for students who fall below one year reading level, to repeat the third grade.

“Before my time at the House of Representatives, I was a teacher. Though the bill package was made with good intentions in mind, the ultimate reality was that it did not assist in the way it was supposed to. I’ve been a part of many government-mandated regulations on students and teachers. Some regulations work, and some make the classroom environment worse. Students deserve the best, and sometimes that means implementing change,” Shannon said. “Students deserve reading intervention at a young age. This extra time and attention provides an opportunity for students to have a more pleasant and valued educational experience. Though, this help isn’t magically wished into existence. What it comes down to is the need for further funding and investments in the Michigan school districts and legislation that is ready to implement these needs, not forcing a student to repeat a grade.”