State pushes to make retention of students decided by standardized test score

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Trustee Graham (left) and Trustee Powers (right).

Lizzy Lafave

Trustee Graham (left) and Trustee Powers (right).

“The actual cost of keeping a child for an additional year is an added strain to the district.” said East Lansing Schools Trustee Karen Hoene.

“We have kids who are struggling,” said Hoene. “We see dropout rates increasing the more students are retained.”

The amendment of this house bill adressing young student retetion was a great topic of concern at the last East Lansing Public Schools board meeting, where Central Administration debated amending House Bill 4822 —  which states third graders must pass state reading assessments to move up in grade.

Hoene said she likes the development side of the bill, but there is not enough funding to back it up, and fears it will end up hurting kids more that are struggling the most if the amendment passes.

“Kids are already so stressed in our test-driven culture, we do not need to add the fear of retention to their shoulders.”

Hoene says the decision of whether or not to retain a student should be made between the teacher and the parent of the student and not to be left up to a standardized test score.

“East Lansing has great parents that want to be involved, and I think they should know that this bill leaves no room for parent involvement.”

As for a solution to the issue Hoene said, “I’d like to see more reading intervention at kindergarten levels. I’d like to see it get funded first.”

Treasurer Kath Edsall said it is close to pointless to make big development plans without adequate funding.

“We are pulling the cart before the horse here,” said Edsall.

Edsall says, at the very least, appropriate funds and time should be allotted so that struggling students can have full benefit of those interventions before being retained.

“It is my opinion that the legislation does not provide the adequate funding to implement the proscribed interventions and it subjects students who have not had the full four years of interventions, to testing, which will then be used to determine retention,” said Edsall. “In both cases, it seems as if you are setting kids up to fail.”

Trustee Erin Graham says that student retention can lead to students feeling inadequate, and references reputable research articles to see resolutions to the issue besides retention.

Hoene said the bill will cost more long-term than is seen on the surface, because the cost of keeping a child for an additional year is an added strain to the district.

The State Board of Education released suggestions for the amendment that it feels will be more effective to students.

The Central Administration Board of Education meetings are held bimonthly at East Lansing High School.

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