- Sponsorship -

Superintendents Join Forces to Improve Regional Reading Scores

West Michigan educators are taking a collaborative approach to boost third-grade student reading proficiency up to the 80 percent mark in five years.

Superintendents are joining forces in the new Region 3West Michigan K-3 Reading Now Network to glean knowledge from each other in meeting the goal for third-grade students in all demographic groups, and to zero in on intervention strategies for students not up to par. Region 3 is represented by 100 superintendents in 13 counties: Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Osceola and Ottawa.

“It’s truly about replicating our strengths,” said Greenville Public Schools Superintendent Pete Haines, a member of the Reading Now Network steering committee.

The goals of the network were recently introduced at the Michigan Association of School Administrators meeting.

“It’s creating a much bigger pool of potential resources,” Haines said.A Byron Center Public Schools elementary student works on a reading activity

What is the Need?

The focus on third grade is crucial because research shows children who do not read proficiently in third grade are at a much higher risk of failing to graduate from high school, struggle in other areas of school and end up in jail or on welfare.  

“Reading is probably the most important skill in terms of being successful,” said Region 3 President Tom Reeder, Wyoming Public Schools superintendent.

In West Michigan, 67.84 percent of students scored proficient on the reading portion of the MEAP test in the fall of 2012. Statewide, that number was 66.5 percent. The region as a whole has improved from 61.17 percent proficient in 2008-2009.

Reeder said the network aims to look at practices that are working at schools, and see what lower-performing schools can learn from higher-performing ones.

“How do we take the concern around not only third-grade reading, but reading in general and how do we support each other?” he asked.

Peer-to-peer visits, shared knowledge, resources and professional development are great ways to start, he said. Helping each other will hopefully improve test results statewide. 

“This would open up avenues for more teachers to make connections,” Reeder said.

Districts considered to be “beating the odds” despite an at-risk population can demonstrate how they have achieved good results. Eighteen schools in the region have been recognized as “Reward” schools for narrowing the gap between the lowest and highest performing students.

Haines said commitment from schools will require collaborating, cooperating and not competing.  

In his own district, two lower performing elementary schools collaborated with higher performing ones to model successful efforts. All schools saw improvement by sharing strategies, he said.

Other goals include assisting parents in helping their children read, including non-English speaking or non-reading parents.


“Third Grade Reading and Reality” by Ron Koehler, Kent ISD assistant superintendent   

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.


District welcomes new administrators, ready to ‘lead through uncharted waters’

New administrators share their thoughts on starting their posts during a pandemic...

Teacher and coach applies lessons in classroom and on field

New Kelloggsville head football coach Brandon Branch also teaches science and math at the high school and looks to bring academics and athletics together whenever he can...

Two high schools, newly renovated, await return of students

Two major renovation projects at Ottawa Hills and Union high schools are part of a 30-year, $175 million school improvement bond approved November 2015 with the majority, $155 million, earmarked for construction...

Avid reader, Petoskey-stone hunter, lover of great outdoors

Melanie Hoeksema is the new Ada Elementary principal. SNN gets to know her in this edition of Meet Your Principal...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Districts ponder how to keep students learning, engaged

Teachers are challenged to keep their style of instruction intact with students who are socially distanced and, often, not in the building at all...

Students return to classrooms for first time since March

'It’s a little different, and a little strange. ... but it seems like it’s going to be fine'...

Marching on

The plan is to continue regular rehearsals and to host a number of community events, to be determined...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU