Third Grade Reading Law Partially Repealed

Governor Whitmer signed Public Act 7 of 2023 into law, repealing the third grade reading and retention provisions. PA 7 is expected to take effect in late March 2024, but is technically effective 91 days after the 2023 Legislature’s final adjournment in December.

Revised School Code Section 1280f currently requires schools to retain third-grade students who are not able to read at grade level. Subject to a good-cause exemption, a third-grade student is not allowed to enroll in fourth grade unless he or she achieves a reading score of “less than 1 grade level behind” on the grade 3 state English language arts assessment, or demonstrates a third-grade reading level through an alternative assessment or reading portfolio. MDE issued a memo, dated April 20, 2023, indicating that schools still need to implement Section 1280f and continue to identify students who are eligible for retention this school year.

PA 7, again effective late March 2024, removes the provision that prohibits promoting a student to the fourth grade unless the student either demonstrates a satisfactory reading score or a third-grade reading level. PA 7 also eliminates the prohibition on the superintendent (or PSA chief administrator) from allowing a student younger than 10 years old (who would be enrolled in a public school or PSA for the first time) to enroll in the fourth grade without a satisfactory reading score or third-grade reading level.

Further, PA 7 modifies the deadlines by which the Center for Educational Performance and Information (CEPI) must identify students with reading deficiencies based on their MSTEP scores. Also, CEPI’s notices to parents and guardians must now include an explanation as to what constitutes a reading deficiency and what interventions are available to address the deficiency.

Largely unchanged by PA 7 is the requirement to provide intensive reading intervention services to students. If a third-grade student has a reading deficiency based on the grade 3 state English language arts assessment, the school must provide a reading intervention program intended to correct the deficiency through the fourth grade. If that student’s reading deficiency remains at the end of the fourth grade, the school must provide intensive reading intervention to the student, in a manner determined by the school, until the student no longer has a reading deficiency according to an MDE-approved assessment.