3rd Grade Reading Law - What you need to know

Dear Parents and Guardians,

In 2016, the Michigan Legislature passed the Third Grade Reading Law in an effort to ensure that students exit 3rd grade reading at or above grade level.  The law will impact the 2017/2018 transitional kindergarten (TK), kindergarten, and 1st grade students by the time they are in 3rd grade. In accordance with this law, we will continue to conduct reading assessments with TK – 3rd grade students. These assessments will identify students who need intensive reading instruction and intervention and will also provide useful information to help teachers tailor instruction to meet individual student needs.

TK-3rd grade students will at a minimum be assessed at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year.  All TK – 3rd grade parents will be informed of the results of our assessments and included in planning the next steps.  The law also requires districts to provide an individual reading plan to parents of TK-3rd grade students with reading difficulties.  This plan will include information about current services being provided, additional reading supports planned for your child, and strategies for you to help your child at home (“Read-at-Home plan”).  Assessment results will be available in time for you to discuss at Parent/Teacher Conferences.

Beginning in the 2019/2020 school year, all 3rd grade students will be required to take a standardized state assessment at the end of the year to determine promotion to 4th grade. If your child is reading below grade level at the end of 3rd grade, the law compels us to inform you in writing that your child will not be promoted to 4th grade unless he/she qualifies for an exemption (exemption examples included in the link below).

In the Berkley School District, we rarely retain elementary students.  We know students who may be struggling with reading in 3rd grade often blossom in 4th or 5th grade.  Not all students mature intellectually at the same rate.  Just as children have physical growth spurts, they also have intellectual growth spurts.  While we take seriously the responsibility to ensure students are reading at grade level every year, we also understand our equally important responsibility to support the emotional and social growth of our students.

Further, the research on holding students back is mixed at best.  We believe the decision to hold a child back should be made by the school with the input of parents, and should not be based solely on a test.  We will continue to consult with parents to make the decision which will ultimately be in the best interest of each child.

As always, we appreciate your support and involvement. For more information, please see the documents and links below.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me or your building principal.


Scott Francis
Director of Curriculum, Technology, Assessment, and Grants

DIBELS Facts for Parents

DIBELS Facts for Parents

The teachers and administrators at our school are committed to helping your child become a successful reader. As part of this commitment, Berkley Schools school has chosen to use a  test called DIBELS to help us examine how each child is doing in learning important reading skills. DIBELS stands for Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills.

DIBELS tests five skills that are necessary for learning to read. Children who learn these skills become good readers. The skills are:

  • Phonemic Awareness: Hearing and using sounds in spoken words
  • Alphabetic Principle: Knowing the sounds of the letters and sounding out written words
  • Accurate and Fluent Reading: Reading stories and other materials easily and quickly with few mistakes
  • Vocabulary: Understanding and using a variety of words
  • Comprehension: Understanding what is spoken or read

DIBELS is made up of seven short individual tests, called subtests. Each DIBELS subtest focuses on a different skill and takes about 1 minute to do. Each child may be given two to five of the DIBELS subtests depending on his or her grade level. Each DIBELS subtest takes only about one minute to do because they are used as indicators. Much like using a thermometer to take a child’s temperature is an indicator of overall health, each subtest is an indicator of how well a child is doing in learning a particular early reading skill.

DIBELS is used with millions of children throughout the United States. A child’s score on a subtest tells us whether the child is likely to be “on track” for learning to read, or whether that child may need some help in learning important reading skills. Each child’s teacher will use the information to better help each child. For example, the DIBELS test may tell us that we need to spend more time teaching a child how to “sound out” unknown words.

DIBELS is used to identify children who may need extra help to become good readers and check up on those children while they receive the extra help to make sure they are making progress. DIBELS also may be used by our schools to make decisions about how well the school’s overall reading program is working for all children.

We are working hard at school to make sure that every child is on target for success, and we thank you for your efforts at home. Together, we will help your child become a successful reader.

A Parent Guide to Public Act 306

Learning About the Law

  • What is the law about?
  • How will it affect my child?
  • What do I need to know as a parent?
  • What can I do to support my child?

What is the law all about?

  • Michigan’s test scores on both the Michigan-based M-STEP ELA assessment and the NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) reading assessment have shown a need for attention to early reading and literacy
  • On the 2015 NAEP Michigan was 41st in the nation for 4th grade reading achievement
  • In an effort to boost reading achievement, Michigan lawmakers passed Public Act 306 in October 2016
  • To help more students to be proficient by the end of 3rd grade, the law requires extra support for K-3 students who are not at grade level in reading
  • Requires that a child be retained  in 3rd grade if they are not reading at grade-level by the end of 3rd grade

What Do I Need to Know as a Parent?

  • Your child’s reading progress will be closely monitored
  • If your child is not reading where expected a plan to improve reading will be created. This includes:
    • Extra instruction or support in areas of need
    • Ongoing checks on reading progress
    • A Read at home plan
  • If you are notified your child may be retained you have the right to meet with school officials and to request an exemption if in the best interest of your child
  • You have the right and are encouraged to be involved every step of the way!

How will this affect my child? K-3

  • Your school will use tests in K-3rd grade to identify students that need extra help with reading. These students:
    • are at risk of not passing the M-STEP ELA in 3rd grade
    • are not reading at the expected level for his or her grade level and time of year
  • If your child is identified as needing additional supports (extra help), your school will provide your child with an individual reading improvement plan.
  • This means your child’s teacher and school will work with your child to find where your child needs support in his or her reading development and create a plan to support him or her.
  • If your child has an individual reading improvement plan:
    • The extra supports in your child’s reading improvement plan will occur during the school day
    • Your child will not miss regular reading instruction
    • Part of your child’s reading plan will include a read at home plan that engages you and your child in reading and writing outside of the school day. This may include training or tips on how to work with your child at home.
    • Your child may also be encouraged to participate in summer reading programs
  • Your child’s teacher will also receive supports in evidence-based effective practices in teaching reading and writing supporting all learners to grow as readers and writers
  • This part of the law will apply when this year’s kindergartners (2016-2017) reach 3rd grade.
  • A student will not be promoted to 4th grade unless they:
    • receive a reading score of less than 1 year behind on grade 3 ELA  state assessment (M-STEP) or
    • show a grade 3 reading level on another test approved by superintendent of public instruction or
    • show a grade 3 reading level through a portfolio, or collection, of student work in all grade 3 ELA standards.
  • A child will only be required to repeat 3rd grade once

How will this affect my child? 3rd Grade

  • You will be notified by the state and district if your child may be required to be retained
  • You as a parent have the right: 
    • to ask for  a “good cause exemption” with the school or district within 30 days once notified
    • to request a meeting with school officials (principal, etc.)
  • If your child repeats 3rd grade: 
    • Class will be with a highly rated teacher and/or reading specialist
    • Most of the day will be spent on reading instruction but some 4th grade standards will also be taught
    • Students will still have an independent reading improvement plan and get extra support
    • Student progress will be closely monitored

Are There Any Exceptions?

  • Considerations may be made if your child:
    • Has an  IEP or 504 plan
    • Is English language learner (second language learner)
    • Has had intensive intervention for 2 years and was previously retained
    • Has been enrolled in current district for less than 2 years and did not receive reading support
    • Is grade level in all other subjects
    • Is in the best interest of the student and requested within 30 days
  • If a request is made, the district superintendent will make a decision in writing and notify parents
  • The decision will be shared at least 30 days before school begins
  • The decision is final

What Can I Do to Support My Child?

  • Read at home with your child daily with books they enjoy- even in the summer.  Some ways to do this:
    • Read out loud to your child
    • Listen to your child read
    • Echo read (You read a line, then they repeat)
    • Read together at the same time
    • Reread or retell favorite stories
  • Talk to your child about the reading.
    • Ask your child to share what they remember. 
    • Ask questions about the reading.
    • Connect the stories to your child’s life or other books you’ve read
  • Talk to and with your kids a lot- knowing more words helps kids to understand the words they read better
  • Encourage writing- Let children write the sounds they hear, spelling is developmental and a work in progress

Digital Texts and Resources

The information in this "A Parent Guide to Public Act 306 section" is provide by Oakland Schools.

Oakland Intermediate School Contact: Michele Farah PhD, 248-209-2151