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      Proposed bill would hold back Michigan third-graders who don't pass state reading exam

      Michigan lawmakers are debating whether to hold back students who aren't proficient in reading and they want to use the third grade state reading test as the measure.

      The legislation introduced this week would hold back all third graders who don't pass the reading part of the MEAP test. Right now, about 33,000 Michigan third graders don't make the mark.

      While that's a concern, critics say you can't use policy to address the problem.

      Students in Mrs. Taylor's fourth grade class were busy doing their reading exercise Thursday morning.

      More than 80 percent of them at Freeland Elementary School passed the MEAP reading exam last year. Thatâ??s higher than the statewide average of just two-thirds who made the mark.

      â??School districts need to be held accountable for students being able to read,â?? Superintendent Matt Cairy said. Cairy said teachers and administrators in his district use a number of measures to ensure students are on track. But, he said, a new proposal in Lansing to hold back all third graders who aren't proficient in reading is the wrong approach.

      â??This is not going to happen just through retention. This happens through interventions by teachers in the classroom,â?? and through parent involvement, Cairy said.

      Though supporters of the bill say third grade is a key indicator of future success, some parents say no child learns at the same pace.

      Mother of four, Angela Osterman, said, "My three children learn very fast, quickly, i have one that learns a little bit slower, so she just needs additional help."

      Osterman says holding kids back because of a law isnâ??t â??the right way to go about it.â??

      "When you take one test on one day and use it to make a decision to retain a child, you're ignoring what's happening during a school year,â?? Cairy said.

      The House Education Committee heard testimony on this bill Wednesday, sparking some strong debate.

      If the legislation passes, it would take effect for the 2014-2015 school year.