Teach Plus Michigan applauds the passage of Senate Bills 567 and 568 in the Michigan state Senate

Teach Plus Michigan applauds the passage of Senate Bills 567 and 568 in the Michigan state Senate

Lansing, Michigan, March 12, 2024—Teach Plus Michigan issued the following statement in support of Senate Bills 567 and 568, following the bill package’s approval by the Michigan state Senate:

Teach Plus and Michigan Teacher Leadership Collaborative (MTLC) teacher leaders commend the ongoing effort of the Michigan Legislature to ensure every child in Michigan, particularly those with characteristics of dyslexia, have the literacy support they need. As the legislation moves forward to the Michigan state House of Representatives, MTLC teacher leaders call on all policymakers to approve SB567 and SB568 to ensure every Michigan student receives literacy support grounded in the science of reading to prepare them for academic and life success.

“The need to act is clear,” said Teach Plus Michigan Executive Director Ben Locke. “In 2022, Michigan 4th grade students received the lowest reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in 30 years. Through this bill package, students and teachers will have  the support they need through screening, evidence-based interventions, and teacher training, all grounded in the science of reading. I applaud the efforts of the Michigan Legislature so far, and hope to see these bills become law.”

“Jon, one of my third grade students, is unable to read simple, two-three letter words,” said Alyssa Henneman, MTLC member and K-3 special education teacher at Centreville Elementary School in Centreville, Michigan. “When he sees the word ‘bat,’ he sounds out ‘/b/ /a/ /t/’ and says ‘dig.’ Jon’s experience is not unique here in Michigan. By instituting screeners and requiring teachers to have training in interventions for dyslexia, students like Jon would be able to receive the support they deserve.”

Senate bill 567 builds on the literacy support offered to students through Michigan’s “3rd grade reading law” by requiring all students in kindergarten through 3rd grade to be screened for characteristics of dyslexia three times per year. Students in grades 4 through 12 would also be screened for dyslexia if they have difficulty learning to decode. Schools then provide any identified students with systems of support grounded in the science of reading. Senate bill 568 requires teacher preparation programs and alternative certification pathways to teach prospective teachers about proper instructional methods and accommodations for students struggling with reading, including those with dyslexia. The bill also requires current literacy coaches and educators who teach reading to receive professional development aligned with the science of reading. The two Senate bills are part of a package that includes House Bill 5098, which would set up an advisory committee within the Michigan Department of Education to help fulfill the requirements set out in SB567.

MTLC teacher leaders kept a steady drumbeat of advocacy to help  advance the legislation out of the Senate Education Committee with a favorable and bipartisan vote. Specifically, they pushed to align the timeline for the dyslexia screener’s implementation with that of teachers’ training, advocated for more literacy coaches per school district to adequately support teachers, and called for pre-service teachers to teach reading to ensure their effectiveness.

Explained Carrie Miculka, MTLC member and 4th grade reading teacher at Central Elementary in Owosso, Michigan, “If a student is unable to read and understand their homework and tests, their ability to work independently is greatly diminished, as are their social emotional skills because they lack the confidence to work at the same level as their peers.”

About the Michigan Teacher Leadership Collaborative
The Michigan Teacher Leadership Collaborative (MTLC) is a highly-selective leadership opportunity for outstanding Michigan teachers looking to share their expertise around equity-focused instructional practices, deepen their knowledge of education policy, and gain a voice in decisions that affect historically underserved students and the teaching profession. The Education Trust-Midwest and Teach Plus co-convene the MTLC.