The final policies Michigan should consider are Florida’s programs aimed at improving literacy for all students. These reforms began later, around the same time as alternative certification for teachers and the ban on social promotion.
It is also difficult to determine how broad an impact the programs had. There is not much research demonstrating the policies’ effectiveness. Third-graders retained in Florida based on reading skills did decrease by 40 percent from 2002 to 2007, suggesting that the targeted resources may have helped at least some groups of students.[*] By the same token, this reduction may have been the result of incentives created by the third-grade social-promotion policy itself.
Michigan does not have a similar program, but the state did participate in the federal “Reading First” program. Michigan was granted $25?million or more annually from 2003 through 2010 “to promote high-quality school reading instruction for grades K-3.” According to a 2008 report on the program from the U.S. Department of Education, 165 schools in Michigan participated in 2007.
Florida was also granted federal funds for Reading First, and 584 schools participated. Since both states participated in this federal program, however, it is unlikely to have contributed significantly to the disparity in NAEP gains between the two states.
Michigan also implemented the Michigan Literacy Progress Profile in 2001, which trained teachers to provide better reading instruction and to more accurately assess the reading abilities of students in preschool through third grade. An estimated 10,000 teachers have been trained through this program.
[*] Ladner and Lips, “Demography as Destiny?,” Education Next, vol. 9, no. 3, (Hoover Institution, 2009), http://goo.gl/hPEbS (accessed May 31, 2013). The reduction in the rate at which third-graders were retained may also have been due to the threat of students’ having to repeat a grade because of the social-promotion ban. This additional factor makes the effectiveness of the additional reading resources less clear.
 Public Act 121 of 2009, http://goo.gl/YYS7C (accessed March 20, 2013); Joe Serwach, “Reading First Federal Literacy Program Works in Michigan,” (The University Record Online, University of Michigan, 2006), http://goo.gl/xWLMf (accessed March 20, 2013).