MRA News

Michigan Reading Association is proud to share with its members the following documents. The purpose of the literacy essentials is to increase Michigan’s capacity to improve children’s literacy by identifying a small set of research-supported literacy instructional practices that could be a focus of professional development throughout the state. The focus of these documents are on classroom practices, rather than on school- or systems-level practices. Michigan Reading Association is proud to support the ongoing, collaborative work taking place across the Great Lakes State. The following documents are the first of several to be shared.

GELN Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy - PreKindergarten
GELN Essential Instructional Practices in Early Literacy - Grades K-3

Legislative Updates

February 20, 2017

Dear MRA Members,

On February 9, 2017, HB 4192 was introduced to the Michigan House of Representatives and referred to the Committee on Michigan Competitiveness, where it was discussed on February 15. This bill would repeal Michigan’s current state K-12 standards and in their place, adopt the Massachusetts state standards that were in place during the 2008-2009 school year. Specifics outlined in HB 4192 include:

·         Adoption of the new standards for the 2017-2018 school year.

·         A requirement that MDE implement validated state assessments of pupil achievement using the assessment used in Massachusetts during the 2008-2009 school year and aligned to the academic standards in effect in Massachusetts during that school year.

·         Requiring these assessments be ready for use by the first spring after new statewide academic standards are implemented (which would be spring 2018 if the new standards are adopted for the 2017-2018 school year).

·         Requiring districts to “establish a fundamental academic curriculum” at the K-12 levels that may vary from the state academic content standards implemented under this bill.

·         Not requiring any district or public school academy to utilize all or any part of the academic content standards implemented by the state. The state board and MDE cannot impose any financial consequence on districts or PSAs that implement academic content standards differing from those implemented by the state.

·         Approval by both houses of the legislature of any assessment developed by MDE with at least one public hearing.

I have attached three documents for your review: (1) a history of content and learning standards in Massachusetts, outlining their rationale for increased rigor in their academic standards and including the decision to adopt the CCSS; (2) a copy of HB 4192; and (3) a report from the Michigan House Fiscal Agency commenting on the fiscal impact of this legislation. As you read through these short, yet concise, documents, you will find that HB 4192 does not provide the following:

·         Sound rationale for discarding the current state standards that are rigorous and provide students with the skills necessary to be productive citizens.

·         A phase-in of the new content standards, as had been done in previous adoptions of new state content standards.

·         Continuity for students in academic knowledge and achievement should they transfer from one district to another since districts are not required to utilize any or all of the content standards.

·         A provision delaying the retention of students not reading at grade level by the end of third grade based on achievement as measured by the state assessment (the third grade reading bill was written based on the current state standards and assessment).   

·         Funding for professional development so educators understand the new standards, are prepared to implement them, and can develop lessons aligned to the standards.

·         Adjustment of growth measures as applied to student achievement, school accountability, and teacher evaluation should the new standards be adopted.

We know that legislation can move rapidly and given the timeline for implementation of HB 4192, time is of the essence. It is imperative that you contact your state Representative voicing your concerns regarding HB 4192. Even if this bill is tabled for now, it can be brought back in the fall when the pace is fast and furious to pass legislation prior to December 31. Your input can make a difference as to whether this bill moves forward or does not receive enough support to proceed.

One last note on state legislation, there is interest and support in both Houses to change what is taught in our schools. On January 31, the Senate introduced SB 81 which also eliminates our current standards though leaves it to the state board to develop and periodically update model core academic curriculum content standards. This bill does not require adoption of standards from another state and instead, recommends they be based upon the “Michigan K-12 Program Standards of Quality”. No further movement on this bill has occurred.

In closing, please consider attending the Legislative Panel at this year’s MRA conference. This session is scheduled for Saturday, March 11, from 1:00-2:00 in Grand Gallery B/DeVos Convention Center. Our panel participants include Michigan House Representative Adam Zemke, Brandy Archer from MDE, Ariel DuVal representing the Literacy Center of West Michigan, and Michigan’s Teacher of the Year, Tracy Horodyski. Additional panel members are being confirmed. This will be an opportunity to hear the vision for literacy in our state and to ask questions regarding Michigan’s stance on literacy issues. Be sure to highlight this session in your conference calendar.

I will continue to keep you posted on developments related to HB 4192 and other significant literacy issues.


Grace Velchansky,
Michigan Reading Association Legislative Chair

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