Michigan children fall further behind in reading literacy

Dec 1, 2019 by

DETROIT — Here’s something that may be the biggest problem in the way of Detroit ever making a truly successful comeback: No, it’s not crime, or urban blight, or even poverty.

It’s that the children in its schools cannot read.

Cannot read well enough, that is, to pass a state reading test given to all Michigan third-graders. Third grade is considered the most important by educators, because that’s the last year teachers concentrate on teaching them how to read.

After that, the children are expected to “read to learn,” to use their reading skills to study and learn knowledge.

If they don’t read well enough to do that, they are essentially doomed to falling further and further behind.

Michigan as a whole, it should be noted, is not doing well in reading proficiency. Statewide, a majority — almost 55 percent — of Michigan third graders were less than adequate this year.

However, a study by Education Trust-Midwest, a nonprofit research and advocacy group, found last year that third-grade literacy levels were getting worse in Michigan than in any of the other 10 states it examined. That’s possibly because state government has reduced aid to education and weakened teacher benefits, causing many talented teachers to leave the profession.

Proposal A, the formula for funding education Michigan adopted in 1994, is now widely acknowledged to need massive overhauling, and some believe the rise of charter schools has diluted resources.

But if Michigan as a whole has problems with literacy, the situation in Detroit is so bad they may need a new adjective to describe it. This year, a mind-numbing 88.1 percent of third-graders failed to demonstrate reading proficiency on the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress. What’s more stunning is this:

What’s now called the Detroit Public Schools Community District issued a news release celebrating this — because the year before was slightly worse. Nearly 89 percent couldn’t read then.

“These results demonstrate encouraging signs of improvement,” a news release issued by the schools said. “These positive results are a sign of things to come in all our schools,” said Nikolai Vitti, Detroit’s superintendent of schools.

Source: Michigan children fall further behind in reading literacy | Toledo Blade

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