The data is pretty clear and has been for decades: reading proficiency is one of the most significant indicators for having success in school. Many experts will argue it is the No. 1 ingredient and it would be hard to argue with them. Reading is the key to academic success at school. Over the past year, legislators have weighed in with their non-researched approach to supporting reading proficiency of third grade students — retention. The data is overwhelmingly against this concept, but yet it is one of the strategies boiling to the top. In the legislators’ defense, they don’t know better; it isn’t their area of expertise. The good news is: educators know the best ways to improve reading proficiency. We’ve just never been invited to the solution party!
Two months ago, the Intermediate School District (ISD) and local school leadership from Region III met to discuss real solutions to raising the bar. This region includes 10 ISDs from northern and west Michigan and includes the following counties — Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola and Ottawa counties. Even though Region III has one of the highest proficiency regional rates in the state, we know we can reach higher by working together.