Gov. Rick Snyder speaks to importance of Third Grade Reading Workgroup report

The full report is available here.

June 3, 2015

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder discussed the critical issue of Michigan’s third grade reading proficiency rate in both his State of the State address and budget presentation in early 2015, and in March convened the Third Grade Reading Workgroup to research solutions to rapidly improve early literacy statewide. Today, the workgroup presented its report to the governor and highlighted their findings.

“This group took on the overwhelming task of laying the groundwork for making Michigan a leader in early literacy within the next 10 years,” Snyder said. “Today, they released a report that outlines the scope of the problem as well as a five-point plan to drastically improve the reading proficiency rate.

“The data is clear - if Michigan’s children do not have fundamental reading skills by third grade, they simply will not have the same opportunity for a successful future as their peers who had foundational reading skills early on in their education. I appreciate the work done by this group to identify solid recommendations that can benefit Michigan students, and I have great respect for the bipartisan group of legislators who have helped craft this report and will now work on reviewing and implementing the actions suggested.”

Business owner John C. Kennedy, chair of the Workgroup, also serves as the Vice Chair of the Grand Valley State University Board of Trustees and is on the Leadership Council at Talent 2025 in West Michigan.

"A skilled workforce begins with early literacy. In order to fill our skilled trades gap in Michigan now and in the future, it is essential that we bridge our reading proficiency gap." Kennedy said. "The consensus here is that with early intervention and proper educational support, our students can succeed. The diagnostic-driven solutions contained in the report provide real action toward making Michigan a leader in third grade proficiency and preparing our students with the skills they need for future success."

Other Workgroup members included Sens. Goeff Hansen, Phil Pavlov, and Hoon-Yung Hopgood, and Reps. Amanda Price, Tim Kelly, and Adam Zemke. Budget Director John Roberts, Budget Administrator Robbie Jameson, and Darin Ackerman, Karen McPhee and Tyler Sawher of the Executive Office assisted the Workgroup.

Highlights of the report include:

Scope of the Problem

  • Based on a widely respected national test, Michigan is in 40th place in state rankings of reading proficiency and continues to fall behind. This skills gap makes us far less competitive on the national stage and limits opportunities and potentially future quality of life for our students.
  • We are one of only five states to lose ground in reading proficiency from 2003-2013 according to national data, while every other state improved. We must do better.
  • Students who cannot read proficiently by fourth grade are not likely to catch up and be successful in other course work, or graduate from high school on time.

Suggested Strategies for Improvement

  • Increase the amount of classroom time spent on reading comprehension, assess skills often, and intervene with additional strategies as early as possible.
  • Ensure every teacher has the training necessary to use diagnostic and growth tools to determine where each student is in terms of their level of reading proficiency, and help them form an individualized action plan to help the student.
  • Engage parents in developing their children’s early literacy skills by providing them the tools they need, specifically during summer months and afterschool hours.
  • Give each K-3 student who is one or more grade levels behind additional time and intervention so they can get back to grade level as quickly as possible.
  • Provide Michigan teachers and leaders with data that shows how our students and schools are performing in growth and proficiency compared to other states, and an annual report on our progress toward the highest early reading proficiency in the nation.

The Governor’s budget recommendation for Fiscal Year 16-17 entailed $25 million for efforts to improve third grade reading proficiency statewide, including funding for parental support initiatives, literacy coaches, professional development for educators, and diagnostic screening. The conference report adopted by both chambers includes a total of $30 million for these programs.

The full workgroup report is available here.


Quotes from workgroup members:

“These recommendations, and associated funding, will position Michigan as a national leader in reading proficiency and ultimately help our children to succeed and compete in a 21st Century global environment.  I was personally most proud of boosting funding to school districts that provide additional instructional time for K-3 students who need it the most.  These resources will give our students the extra help they need to read at grade-level by the end of 3rd grade.”

Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart

"I am pleased to stand with Governor Snyder and my fellow colleagues today as we work to improve literacy and ensure that all of Michigan's children have the resources they need to become strong readers and successful students," Sen. Hopgood said. "As many of us know, early intervention can be the key factor in ensuring a student's success. I am happy to say that this report highlights the essential strategies needed to support families and young children, and I am confident that with targeted resources in place, parents and educators will have success in achieving improved literacy for our students which will lead to stronger communities and a stronger Michigan."

Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood, D-Taylor

“Whether it is by our own state metrics or in comparison to other states, it is clear that our students are falling behind in early literacy. Because the ability to read is so crucial to the rest of a child’s education and one of the best predictors of academic success, we owe it to our children to provide them with the tools they need to excel in school and beyond.”

Rep. Amanda Price, R-Park Twp.

"I am proud that for the past several months, this group was able to set aside partisan differences in the name of putting forward constructive, holistic, forward-thinking policy to improve childhood literacy."

Rep. Adam Zemke, D-Ann Arbor

“Having played an integral part in the development and implementation of Gov. Engler's Reading Plan for Michigan in1997, I can proudly say that this is a more data-driven approach to remedy problems in early literacy and make sure all students are on grade level by the time they reach the fourth grade.”

Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw Twp.



Related Documents
Read the full Third-Grade Reading Report PDF icon