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OPINION

Letter: Building state’s education foundation

Literacy is the cornerstone of any child’s education. The ability to read by third grade opens doors and broadens horizons more than any academic skill. It also is one of the strongest predictors of future success. Students who are unable to read by third grade are four times more likely to drop out than their literate peers.

Unfortunately, Michigan has fallen behind in promoting early literacy. On the National Assessment of Academic Progress, or NAEP, Michigan ranks 38th in fourth grade reading. Michigan is one of only four states that have seen their fourth grade reading scores decline. Without a dramatic re-emphasis on early literacy, these troubling statistics will translate into a generational problem affecting our workforce, stressing our social safety net, and feeding into a cycle of poverty.

Based on the recommendations of Gov. Rick Snyder’s early literacy Task force, and successful early literacy policies in other states, HB 4822 is the fulcrum to leverage this transformation. This bill will screen and identify struggling readers intermittently in grades K-3 and provide wraparound services to address the child’s specific needs. Beginning in 2017-18, a Smart Promotion policy can be utilized for third-graders needing additional literacy instruction while allowing them to move on in other subjects.

Finally, this bill provides for literacy coaches to work with teachers to empower them with the latest methods and strategies for teaching our children how to read by the end of third grade.

HB 4822 is the result of thoughtful deliberation and proven practices in other states. It will serve as the foundation on which Michigan can construct a revolutionary early literacy policy and become a national leader in education again.

State Rep. Amanda Price,

R-Park Township,

chair of the House Committee on Education