Calling Michigan teachers! How would you improve 3rd-grade reading skills?

Michigan’s young students continue to struggle with basic reading proficiency. What would Michigan teachers do differently if they were in charge of state education policy?

Michigan’s literacy rates are dropping and Lansing’s many reforms have not fixed the issue.

The stakes are higher than ever this fall as the state’s controversial third grade reading law goes into effect - meaning that thousands of children who are a year or more behind in reading at the end of third grade are at risk of having to repeat, an estimated sixfold increase over last year.

What would Michigan’s teachers do differently if they set education policy?

Bridge Magazine wants to know!

We are looking for 25 educators from across the state who teach kindergarten, first, second, or third grade to participate in a two week, moderated conversation in a closed Facebook group about Michigan’s sliding literacy rates and what you think would improve them.

The conversation will be moderated by Bridge Magazine’s Public Engagement Reporter, Alexandra Schmidt, and take place from July 29th to August 9th. Ideas and conversation shared during these two weeks will inform a Bridge story on what teachers think the state should do to improve students’ reading skills.

To apply to participate, fill out the survey below or click on this form. The deadline to apply is Friday, June 14. All applicants will be notified whether or not they have been selected to participate by Friday, June 28.

If you have any questions, please direct them to Alexandra Schmidt, at

Create your own user feedback survey

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Kathleen Hodges
Thu, 05/30/2019 - 9:28am

The job of helping young people read is family first. We need books at home that families read and talk about. We need fewer handheld phones, tablets and gaming devices. Local libraries are scarce and under utilized.

Dr Kurt
Thu, 05/30/2019 - 10:19am

There is a national program called "Reach out and Read" that we use out in the Holland/Zeeland area. We have grant-purchased, age-appropriate books stocked in the offices of Family Physicians and Pediatricians that are given out for free at each Well Child Check-up from 6 months to 5 years of age. I am brought to tears when a single mother tells me "this is now the only book we own." This is a very effective intervention for not a lot of cost. These efforts could be generalized through MDHHS and/or Dept of Education.

Thu, 05/30/2019 - 9:51am

I would provide the proper funding for public schools so that class sizes could be reduced. I would stop the non stop testing. Teachers know what to do but are hamstrung from dictates from Republicans! Children need fine arts as well as the rigors of academics. They need recess and, yes, kindergarteners may even need a brief nap time.
The DeVos Family manupulates education so much they have driven it from the top to the bottom! Who even listens to teachers, the highly educated professionals?

Thu, 05/30/2019 - 10:31am

I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it: Academic underperformance is most closely tied to poverty. We know this. We have years of studies demonstrating this. Kids who are food or housing insecure are going to have less capacity to learn and develop. Until we as a society decide to actually address structural, generational poverty by altering our economic system away from upward accumulation, our teachers and schools will continue to fight an uphill battle.

Thu, 05/30/2019 - 2:40pm

Is it possible that ed under performance and poverty are symptoms of a third or different issue altogether? You're taking two characteristics and saying that one automatically and definitely causes the other just because you like the narrative.

Kent Gage, PhD
Thu, 05/30/2019 - 1:52pm

In pulling together your closed group panel I urge that at least one of the members has familiarity with Reading Recovery and one with Success for All.

Terra Walters
Thu, 05/30/2019 - 2:40pm

We need our colleges and universities teach our educators the science of teaching reading They also need to give our teachers the tools to understand, identify red flags and appropriate remediation methodologies of teaching reading. Dyslexia is the leading cause of reading failure and is not addressed in our schools, not only in Michigan.. but across the country. My son can read because I identified him through research (there is a lot of it) and even though he qualified for an IEP under Specific Learning Disability-he did not receive one remedial service to teach him to learn to read. We provided that through a dyslexia center and that is why he can read. Whole language programs do not work.
This is part of the story. Parents my age are now figuring out that their academic struggles are due to dyslexia, (an ahh haaa Moment when we figure out why our kids struggle with reading, writing and spelling. Dyslexia is hereditary. My husband went all through his life not knowing he was and he is “classic “ dyslexic, until I figured out our son. Sadly, the lawmakers and architects of the reading bill put their head in the sand to parent advocacy, testimony, facts, and the Dyslexia experts on this issue during the process of HB 4822. Now, our kids who are already at risk of dropping out of school are at a greater risk due to the retention. They will be passed on regardless if they make gains or not after the retained year. More of the same intervention that hadn’t worked will continue to not work. We need to identify the reason why they can’t read. Our teachers can do that if they have the knowledge and tools in their teaching tool box!
It is a shame that our colleges and universities do not equip our teachers with the knowledge and practice of this when we have such a reading crisis. Teachers don’t know what they don’t know. Would love for you to bring attention to this part of the reading crisis conversation.
Thank you!
This is more of what is needed.

Terra Walters
Thu, 05/30/2019 - 6:14pm

This has a typo as I was typing on my phone.

This is what it says:
They also need to give our teachers the tools to understand, identify red flags and appropriate remediation methodologies of teaching reading.

At the end of the sentence it should say
“For students with Dyslexia “

My apologies.

Fri, 05/31/2019 - 9:45pm

This is spot on. Teachers just told me to read more to my child, take her to the library. When in reality she has dyslexia and couldn't decode words or blend letter sounds, phenomes and the like. Her 5th grade teacher of nearly 30 years told me she had never heard of dyslexia, when it is the most common reading disability 1 in 5.

Thu, 05/30/2019 - 5:01pm

Parental involvement.
Parental involvement.
Parental involvement.

Which also requires stable family structures that value education. Best possible solution - go back in time and prevent the sexual revolution from ever happening.

Fri, 05/31/2019 - 11:03am

Pre K literacy instruction should be part of our state PreK classrooms so students beginning kindergarten have the literacy learning that is not alway available in homes . The PreK Reading Corps provides excellent focused individualized instruction and support for every student in a PreK classroom. This Americorps program has been proven in Minnesota and many other states to raise students literacy levels.

Fri, 06/14/2019 - 5:46pm

1. Educate parents on what they need to do at home to foster a love of reading.
2. Incorporate more small group time using guided reading and close reading books and passages that are engaging to students.
3. Give them lots of time to read to self in the classroom and pick books of interest.
4. Progress monitor weekly.
5. Teach strategies that great readers use.
6. Read chapter books aloud to your class.
7. Use anchor text in math, science and social studies.
.... so many more ideas...
the biggest thing is to make it fun and engaging, not boring and use only basal readers...