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MICHIGAN: More than 50% of 3rd graders failed literacy exam

Aug 29, 2019, Detroit News: More than half of Michigan third-graders fail in reading https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/education/2019/08/29/michigan-third-graders-fail-reading/2086915001/ With the teeth in Michigan's third-grade retention law ready to sink in this school year, results from the state's annual literacy exam remain bleak: nearly 55% of third-grade students failed the test with only a slight improvement in scores statewide. According to 2019 results of the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress released on Thursday by the Michigan Department of Education, 54.9% of third-graders — or 55,336 students — scored less than proficient on the English language arts test. That's a modest improvement compared with 55.6% last year. Earlier this year, state education officials estimated that only 5% of third-grade students would have been held back under the new scoring system had it been applied to 2018 scores that had 56,850 of Michigan's third-graders scoring less than proficient the test. Under Michigan's reading and retention law, school officials will have the power to retain struggling third-graders this spring if they read a grade level behind on the state’s ELA assessment, which measures reading, writing, listening and language. … The latest results add to an increasingly dire educational outlook for Michigan, which has invested more than $100 million in early literacy supports since the current tested set of third-grade students entered kindergarten. According to analyses of national testing data, Michigan students are performing among the bottom 10 percent of states. Michigan still has been on a slow decline compared with other states where students are realizing higher academic achievements, education experts say…. • The worst news came in social studies. Michigan saw drops in scores across all grade levels tested — 5, 8 and 11. Only 17.4% of fifth-graders and 28% of eighth-graders passed the social studies test. That's compared to 18.3% for fifth-graders and 29.3% for eighth-graders last year. Eleventh-graders scores the highest at 46.6% passing…. In every tested grade in English language arts, the statewide proficiency rate for white students was at least 29% higher than for African-American students and at least 17% higher than for Latino students, Gutman said. … A majority of Michigan school districts have focused resources, funding and staff on improving literacy among K-3 students for the last three years as they waited for the retention portion of the new law to kick in. The law required districts to allocate literacy coaches to assist teachers, a reading assessment given to students several times a year to help identify struggling readers and reading intervention programs for struggling students. Some districts already had coaches in places, others had to find them. Districts implemented individualized reading improvement plans for each struggling child, brought in consultants to help teachers and met with parents at conferences when more interventions were needed. … In third-grade reading, only 5.6% of student passed the test in Benton Harbor Area Schools, compared with less than 5% last year. In third-grade math, 6.3% passed the test, compared with less than 5% last year. The district's average SAT score declined to 707.9 compared to 765 last year. That means less than 5 percent are college-ready, according to the state. … While scores improved in the district, proficient rates remain among the lowest in the state. Taylor said the entire state is not doing well in terms of its education systems. "Nobody is doing good. State of Michigan is abysmal," Taylor said. "We need to stop pointing fingers at one and point at the entire state."..