3rd Grade Retention Bill Update (House Bills 5111 (H-3) and HB 5144)

Legislative Updates News

463838707Legislators in the House are hearing that the 3rd grade retention legislation may come up for a vote before summer break.

While the changes to the bills allow more flexibility, they still ultimately mandate retention for children in 3rd grade for up to two times, even though research on retention shows negative and harmful effects.

Further, one major issue still exists, which is that funding is not included in either of these bills.  While HB 5144 directs the MDE to seek public and private funding for the pilot projects required in the bill and the legislature is directed to fund the programs, the bills themselves do not contain funding and are, therefore, still an unfunded mandate.  Oakland Schools opposes the legislation.

Many legislators have concerns about the bills.  The concerns center on the effectiveness (or lack of effectiveness) for retention as a policy, the unfunded costs in the bills, and the impact on schools of a large group of children being retained for up to 2 years.

Legislative Content

HB 5111 would require children to be held back in 3rd grade until they reach proficiency level on the state assessment for reading.  The substitute that was reported included significant changes from the original bill aimed at offering exemptions to the retention law for children under certain circumstances.

Further, the bill pushes off the mandate for retention by starting with children in first grade this year, thus giving districts a chance to move more children to proficiency through targeted intervention prior to a child reaching the 3rd grade retention requirement.  The substitute allows the local superintendent to grant a good cause exemption to retention for the following reasons:
a)  The pupil has demonstrated 3rd grade reading on an alternative assessment approved by the State Superintendent.

b)  The pupil has demonstrated 3rd grade reading through a pupil portfolio through multiple work samples.

c)  The pupil is a student with a disability and the IEP indicates that participation in the state reading assessment is not appropriate.

d)  The pupil is a limited English proficient student who has had less than 2 years of instruction in an English language learner program.
The exemption can be initiated by the parents or the pupil’s teacher and must go through the principal and to the superintendent (or chief administrator for a charter).  Children who receive an exemption and are enrolled in 4th grade must be provided with intensive reading instruction and intervention with specialized diagnostic information and reading strategies. Students may retake the grade 3 assessment before grade 4 for a second chance to show proficiency.  The bill limits retention to two school years per student.

115530971 (1)Finally, the bill was amended in committee to prohibit MDE from including a social studies component on the grade 3 state assessments or any pilot of that assessment in order to further the goal of reading proficiency.

Legislation with further interventions, HB 5144, was reported from committee as well.  House Bill 5144 would require the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) to adopt policies and programs to enable more Michigan children to attain proficiency in reading by the end of grade 3.  The MDE is required to submit a report to the legislature identifying reading programs that have been demonstrated to work and then MDE would have to recommend or develop a program that focuses on diagnostic evaluation, early intervention, tutoring, and mentoring.

Further for 2014-15, MDE would be required to implement a pilot program serving up to 400 K-2 students in up to four school districts.  Local districts are required to help ensure 3rd grade reading proficiency by using effective screening instruments to identify students having early literacy delays in grades K-3, notify parents of identified children, use intensive intervention for those students, and submit data to MDE.

Click below to watch Oakland Schools’ video statement on the proposed bill.

The Oakland Schools Literacy Team Blog Kicks Off


460593861Welcome to our blog!  With the roll out of the website, so begins the Oakland Schools Literacy Team blog.  Our blogging team is made up of consultants and Oakland County educators.

Our first wave of posts concern legislative updates, podcasts with education experts, and literacy research & theory.   In the coming months, we plan to develop several more categories including:

  • Notes from the Classroom – ideas, teaching strategies, and stories from Oakland County teachers
  • The Consultant’s Corner – highlighted resources and strategies from the OS Literacy Team
  • Book Reviews – reviews of professional texts submitted by Oakland County educators
  • Literacy & Technology – suggestions for ed tech tools and platforms to use in literacy instruction

Every post has share buttons.  So if you like something you read, please share it on Twitter, Facebook or another favorite social media platform.  We also encourage you to join the conversation — use that comment section!

Have a suggestion for the blog?  We’d love to hear from you.

Michigan Merit Curriculum

Legislative Updates


Last week, three bills (SB 66, HB 4465 and 4466) related to the Michigan Merit Curriculum were discharged from Senate Committee to the Senate Floor. An S-8 version of SB 66, which Oakland Schools supports, was unanimously approved by the Senate on Wednesday. The other two bills, which Oakland Schools opposes, are still awaiting further action on the Senate floor.

SB 66 would amend the Revised School Code regarding the fulfillment of Michigan Merit Curriculum requirements for a high school diploma through a career and technical education (CTE) program. If a district requested information from the Department of Education about CTE programs that meet the requirements of the merit curriculum, that information would have to be furnished within a reasonable time. CTE best practices would also have to be posted on the Department website.

The bill would also require a school board to ensure that students were fully informed about how their graduation requirements could be fulfilled with CTE or another Department-approved program. School Districts would be “strongly encouraged” to establish programs whose completion, after high school graduation, would be credited toward achievement of a professional certificate, training, apprenticeship, or college credit in a specific career and technical field.

There are potential costs associated with this on both ends. The Department would have to compile and make available all the information as specified in the bill. Also, districts would require school districts to ensure that pupils are provided with information about how to fulfill credit requirements for a high school diploma. Most districts already do this, but if not there could be costs associated with getting up to date.

Teacher Evaluation Implementation Bills

Legislative Updates

Michigan Chalboard

The House Education Committee is expected to take up House Bills 5223 and 5224 on Wednesday, April 30th, at 10:30 am.  It is unclear if the bills will be reported at that time.  The sponsors feel they have had a great deal of input from stakeholders and want to see the bills move quickly now.  The main concerns are still the lack of a state choice for assessment (see previous update) prior to finalizing these bills, a rather large turn toward state control of teacher and administrator evaluations as well as the more practical issue of trying to link teacher performance directly to test scores.

Additionally, House Bill 5203 was referred to House Education Committee but has yet to have a hearing.  This is one of the two bills (817 is the other) that would delay implementation in order to provide appropriate implementation time and assessment choice as well as time for training.  The House is not expected to take up this bill.

As discussed previously, Senate Bill 817 (Pappageorge, R-Troy) would amend the Revised School Code to delay the implementation of teacher and school administrator performance evaluation requirements, including conditions for the use of student growth and assessment data in conducting the evaluations, until the 2015-2016 school year. Once implemented, the percentage of evaluation based on student growth must be 50%.   This bill still awaits action on the Senate Floor.  We’ve been told the Senate will not act until an assessment has been chosen give the confusion on that issue.

State Assessment Choice in MDE Budget

Legislative Updates

Smarter BalancedAs of Friday, April 25, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) budget with an amendment that places several restrictions on the assessment chosen and implemented by the state.  Specifically, the amendment states the Department cannot expend funds unless it selects an assessment that meets all the requirements listed:

(a)    The assessment system measures student proficiency and growth on the current state curriculum standards and is capable of measuring individual student performance in the following subject matter areas:

(i)                         English.

(ii)                       Reading.

(iii)                     Writing.

(iv)                      Mathematics.

(v)                        Science.

(b)    The content of the assessment system is aligned with the current state curriculum standards.

(c)    The content of the assessment is subject to a transparent review process involving public review and comment.

(d)    Ensures that students, parents, and teachers are provided with reports that convey individual student proficiency and growth on the assessment.

(e)    Ensures that students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community members are provided with reports that convey aggregate student proficiency and growth data for a given school.

(f)     Ensures the capability of reporting the necessary data to support educator evaluations.

(g)    Ensures that reports are available within 1 month after completion of the exam.

(h)    The assessment is capable of being implemented statewide with existing infrastructure in a fully operational manner no later than the 2015-2016 school year.

(i)      Except as necessary to support educator evaluations pursuant to subdivision (f), ensures that access to individual student data is available only to the student, parents, legal guardians, administrators, and teachers of the student.

(j)      The assessment is pilot tested prior to statewide implementation.

(k)    Each exam shall not designate more time to be completed than the previous statewide assessment designated.

(l)      The total cost of executing the adopted assessment statewide each year shall not exceed twice the cost of executing the previous statewide assessment after adjustment for inflation.

(2) School districts are not prohibited from adopting interim assessments.

The MDE currently is researching whether these conditions preclude the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC) from being used.  Further, the Senate removed the funding for assessments related to educator evaluation and student assessment phase-in both in the MDE budget and the School Aid budget.  This may have just been to create a point of difference with the House budget.  There are still opportunities for change so please reach out and let your legislators know your thoughts on state assessments.