Detroit Evening Report: Twice as many Black and poor students held back under Michigan reading law

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Black third grade students and those from low-income homes are twice as likely to be held back under Michigan’s Read by Grade Three Law, according to a recent report.

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The document also revealed that the number of third graders held back over reading in Michigan doubled last year.

As MLive reports, that’s about 10 percent, or 545 students of the 5,680 students who are eligible to be held back. Michigan State University Education Policy Innovation Collaborative reports these numbers as part of research on what this means for families.

MSU EPIC Director Katharine Strunk says the report shows disparities in retention among Black, and economically disadvantaged students.

“Not only are low-income students and students of color and students in traditionally lower performing districts and urban districts more likely to be retention-eligible, but those same kinds of students are more likely to be retained once eligible,” Strunk told MLive.

The report shows that Black students were twice as likely to be retained compared to white students, while economically disadvantaged students were twice as likely to be retained compared to wealthy peers.

The Read by Grade Three Law aims to improve early literacy for students by requiring them to be held back if they do not meet standard reading levels. Some students can go on to the fourth grade through a “good cause exemption” — usually requested by a parent.

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  • Nargis Rahman
    Nargis Hakim Rahman is the Civic Reporter at 101.9 WDET. Rahman graduated from Wayne State University, where she was a part of the Journalism Institute of Media Diversity.