Third grade literacy is on the rise in Michigan – but will it hold? Our experts can let you know what needs to be done

Third grade literacy is on the rise in Michigan – but will it hold? Our experts can let you know what needs to be done Third grade literacy is on the rise in Michigan – but will it hold? Our experts can let you know what needs to be done

March 16, 20212 min read
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Third grade literacy has improved in Michigan according to a new report on Michigan’s Read by Grade 3 law from Michigan State University’s Education Policy Innovation Collaborative, the strategic research partner of the Michigan Department of Education.


Pre-pandemic literacy numbers are up – and that should be good news for students, parents and teachers all around. But will that trend sustain – and what do we all need to keep and eye on and do to ensure that success doesn’t slip?


Katharine Strunk, director of the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative, or EPIC, and the Clifford Erickson Distinguished Professor of Education Policy at MSU’s College of Education was a key contributor in this report.



“Third grade literacy has improved in Michigan, in particular for traditionally underserved students,” Strunk said. “This is a very good sign that many of the specific literacy supports and interventions in place in Michigan are working. While our study shows promising gains for some third graders, the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtably set back educators’ efforts to implement evidence-based strategies to help early learners continue to build their literacy knowledge.”


The study also found that educators already believed that interventions required by the Read by Grade 3 law are under-resourced, with a clear shortage of high-quality literacy coaches and educators, and disparities in the availability of effective literacy resources.


“Overall, teachers and administrators in Michigan believe that literacy coaches are effective in helping teachers to improve their literacy instruction,” said Tanya Wright, co-author of the report and associate professor of language and literacy in the Department of Teacher Education at MSU’s College of Education. “However, because of limited funding for coaches, many schools and teachers do not have access to literacy coaches, and this limited access seems to be even more of a challenge in traditionally underserved schools and districts.”



A full article containing the key details and metrics of this report is attached – and it is worthwhile reading for anyone looking to know more about the state of education in Michigan.


And, if you are a journalist looking to cover this report or have questions about education – then let us help with your coverage.


Katharine Strunk is a professor of education policy and the Clifford E. Erickson Distinguished Chair in Education at Michigan State University. Katherine is available to speak to media regarding this issue, simply click on her icon now to arrange an interview today.



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  • Katharine Strunk
    Katharine Strunk Clifford E. Erickson Distinguished Chair in Education and Professor of Education Policy and, by courtesy, Economics

    Education policy expert focusing on the impacts and implementation of state and district policy.

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