- A Michigan state literacy law that goes into effect in the 2019-20 school year will require 3rd graders who don't read on grade level to held back, according to Chalkbeat.
- The biggest concern among educators and advocates is that a majority of parents don't know enough about the looming law to understand the affect it might have on their child. That fear is greatest in the Detroit area, where 88% of third graders would have been held back had the law been in force this year.
- To spread the word, districts, individual schools, and community organizations are holding workshops and information sessions for parents. To further allay concerns, the state is hiring literacy coaches to prep the first cohort subject to the law.
Sixteen states plus D.C. require retention for students not reading at proficiency by the end of 3rd grade; 14 of those allow for conditional promotion. Research shows that students who have been retained, as early as kindergarten or as late as middle school, are less likely to graduate high school. And aside from that, studies show that when students are held back, the performance of their classmates starts to suffer. Yet "social promotion," where students who are failing are promoted to avoid embarrassment, but essentially left to sink or swim, hasn't yielded positive results either. The practice was famously disparaged by President Obama, in fact.
Los Angeles schools are implementing a model in which failing student move forward, but are then bolstered with intervention programs. These can vary, from double courses in a challenging subject, tutoring and one-on-one-sessions with counselors to summer school, after-school intervention programs and credit recovery offerings. Each effort is funded differently, depending on the school. For example, in high school, the district is funding a program that provides smaller classes in challenging subjects for failing students during the school day. .
One crucial message school leaders can convey to parents, especially those with the youngest children, is that all parents are capable of helping their children succeed, even if they weren't high-achieving students themselves. These messages — that any parent can help their kindergartner learn to love books, for example — are especially important in disadvantaged communities that might struggle with parent engagement.