Legislature Considers Two Center Ideas

New bills on school grading, third-grade reading proficiency

MIRS News reports (subscription required) that the House Education Committee is considering two bills: one to create an A-F letter grading system for schools and one to require third-graders be proficient in reading before advancing to fourth grade. Both of these ideas are recommendations made in a recent Mackinac Center publication, "Michigan vs. Florida: Student Achievement, Education Policies and Proposals for Reform."

A well-designed school accountability system with easily understood labels (A, B, C, D and F) would create positive incentives for schools to improve and provide parents and taxpayers with a better understanding of how well their tax-supported schools are performing. There is some research suggesting schools can improve under such a system, and 14 other states use similar school report cards, according to the Foundation for Excellence in Education.

Developing literacy skills in the early grades is crucial for later success in school. Committing to high standards in this area creates incentives for schools and parents to keep students on track to read proficiently. Research also supports the concept of banning social promotion for third-graders who cannot read proficiently. Seven other states have similar policies in place.