A state panel will be named soon to look into improving Michigan’s dismal literacy rate. Governor Rick Snyder signed an executive order Wednesday creating the new PreK-12 Literacy Commission.
Michigan has one of the nation’s worst literacy rates. It’s ranked 40th when it comes to student literacy in the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Nearly half of all third graders in the state don’t read at grade level, according to last year’s standardized student tests.
Anna Heaton is the governor’s press secretary. She says the trend is moving in the wrong direction.
"We’re not getting better,” she says. “We’re actually falling further behind, so we need to improve our reading literacy rate so we can be more competitive for jobs in the future.”
A bill before the Legislature to help improve student literacy has languished in a House and Senate conference committee since March. One version would require schools to hold back third graders who are not proficient.
Heaton says commission will be looking for early intervention strategies, and community resources to help with improving literacy:
“They’ll be looking at things like early intervention – how successful early intervention is, and, if so, at what age and grade level it’s most effective, and how businesses and local organizations can help. You know, this isn’t just on educators. It’s on a whole community coming together to help boost these rates.”
Heaton says adults who struggle with reading is also a problem.