MSU report finds third-grade black students disproportionately held back

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)— Michigan’s third-grade literacy law requires school districts to hold back 3rd-grade students who do not meet certain testing requirements. New MSU research found there may be disparities in how students are being held back.

“School districts are supposed to implement the law by thinking of each child individually,” said Dr. Katharine Strunk, Faculty Director of MSU’s Education Policy Innovation Collaborative.

Strunk says their research found certain disparities in the kinds of kids who were being held back in third-grade classes statewide.

“We find that black students are about two times more likely than non-black students to be retained and low-income students were also two times as likely as wealthier students to be retained,” Strunk stated.

Strunk says it is something school districts should look into and understand ways to remain fair.

“The law had flaws in it and our children should not be the ones who are penalized for something that the adults can’t get right,” said Pamela Good, Cofounder of Beyond Basics a Michigan literacy nonprofit.

Good says the report did not shock her, and her biggest concern is the number of children who are unable to read.

“It’s a time to roll up our sleeves and make sure every child attending school, that we are funding education to get them the intensive care they need,” Good stated.

The 3rd-grade reading law was initially put into place to try and improve the overall reading numbers in Michigan. If you would like to read Michigan State University’s research and report click here.

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