Early Literacy

Early Literacy-Read by Grade Three Law

  • Link includes parent and district resources. 

On March 1, 2015, Governor Snyder created the Third-Grade Reading work group (work group) to analyze Michigan’s reading proficiency at the third-grade level (reading proficiency), and to suggest policy to improve this necessary element of future academic and career success. For the past twelve years, Michigan’s reading proficiency has been steadily declining, while almost every other state has improved. To understand this problem and address it effectively, the work group reviewed data and programs from various states, and interviewed teachers, reading intervention specialists, principals, superintendents, professors of early literacy development, and policy experts who have all had significant positive impacts on reading proficiency despite challenges posed by child poverty. 

  • These schools, districts, and states are achieving early literacy using similar diagnostic-driven instruction and intervention methods which are individualized for each student (diagnostic-driven). 
  • National test results indicate that more than two-thirds of Michigan students fail to demonstrate third grade proficiency on standardized reading tests. 

Michigan must do better and should strive to be the national leader in early literacy by 2025. Based on the results of the Governor’s Third-Grade Reading Workgroup’s strategy recommendations, the early literacy work at the Department must focus on:

  • Giving students the research-supported diagnostic and screening instruments, instruction, and interventions necessary for success.
  • Providing every educator with training to use diagnostic-driven methods with knowledge and fidelity.
  • Engaging parents in developing their children’s early literacy skills through information, awareness, and outreach.
  • Providing Michigan teachers and leaders with data that compares our status and growth over time and when compared to other states.

MAISD is focusing on increasing the early literacy skills of our students. The Early Literacy Initiative is a major activity in partnership with the Michigan Department of Education (MDE)  over the next few years. Research shows that if students are not proficient in reading by third grade, their chances of becoming proficient are minimal. 

The MAISD believes that to ensure the early literacy skills of all our students, we need to develop and deliver an educational system that provides…

  • high-quality literacy instruction to all students
  • provides regular information on student progress 
  • strategically intervenes with research-based strategies when students fall behind

The MAISD also believes that prior to children becoming students (at preschool entry), engaging and supporting parents and other family members in supporting language and age-appropriate early literacy development will provide the foundation for later success for students.  We believe it will also increase the engagement of families in their children’s schooling.

Early Literacy Coaching

The Early Literacy Coaching within the MAISD is a grant program through the State Of Michigan. In partnership with the Early Literacy Task Force, the MAISD strives to enhance literacy by building capacity in coaches to strengthen instruction around research-based practices through effective coaching interactions. We strive to support effective systems so that we can effectively respond to data and improve student achievement. 

It is also a core component of supporting the implementation of College-and Career-Ready standards in Michigan, particularly in our earliest grades. The MAISD is making a concerted effort to consistently focus on the foundations described in all of the Early Literacy Practices and to build capacity to support our seven Districts on the key driver of student achievement –  Literacy Essentials.

Want to share your voice?  

The MAISD Early Childhood Literacy Coordinator, Heather Phillips, invites you to share and learn. Email her at  hphillips@maisd.com or call 616-225-6174.

  • Heather Phillips is a passionate educator serving as the MAISD Early Childhood Literacy Coordinator. Her Master’s from Michigan State University in educational leadership and B.A. degree from Grand Valley State University in Psychology/Special Education continues to enhance her mission to serve educators, caregivers, and students with compassion and effective practices. She believes in the power of coaching to transform individuals or groups. Some of her most recent professional learning has been with university researchers and other experts around the literacy essentials, engaging children, and the Historically Responsive Literacy Framework.
MAISD Literacy Coaches by District
  • Central Montcalm Public Schools - Erin Blumberg
  • Greenville Public Schools - Holly Fahner
  • Lakeview Community Schools - Sarah Johnson
  • Montabella Community Schools - Mary Blumer
  • Vestaburg Community School - Amy Johnston



Ways the Coach Supports the Teachers:


  • Coach supports the group 1 hour a month as a PLC
  • Coach supports individuals in the group (average 1 or 4 in-class coaching sessions a month per teacher


Based on school goals, the coach might:

  • Support grade level PLC meetings (setting data-based goals and instructional plans) with individual coaching cycles to implement teacher focus areas
  • Coach several teachers at a time in individual coaching cycles 
  • Coach all teachers from a grade level across more than one building (multi-building districts)
  • Support a building to refine an identified practice across all classrooms, providing choice for how each teacher gets support (co-planning, modeling, co-teaching, observation with feedback, structured observation in a colleagues's classroom, data analysis and differentiation)