More third graders would be held back under legislation

Oct 19, 2015

Credit Linda Stephan

Kids in Michigan are struggling to read, compared to students in other states. Nearly 70 percent of students are not proficient in reading when they begin fourth grade, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Last week, the state House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill meant to improve reading proficiency among third graders, but the legislation has drawn strong criticism from many Democrats. They oppose parts of the bill that would hold back more third graders if they do not meet certain reading requirements.

"I am not going to remove the hope of a nine-year-old," Rep. Adam Zemke said. He is a Democrat and one of the bill's co-sponsors, who changed his vote on the legislation.

Jake Neher, Capitol bureau reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, says fourth grade is seen as a crucial point for students learning to read.