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Educational studies doctoral student co-founds advocacy group to oppose controversial third grade retention law

September 12, 2019

In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, doctoral student Gabriel DellaVecchia commented on Michigan’s new law that requires the retention of third grade students who are not reading at grade level.


Journalist John Wisely, in his article titled “Michigan’s new strict reading rule could harm third graders,” explained that third graders who can't read at state standards after this school year could be forced to repeat the grade. This prospect worries educators, parents, and students, he said, adding that most educators oppose this approach to improving literacy rates.

A student in educational studies, DellaVecchia was quoted about the history of retention practices, saying, “Retention has a long and inglorious history, so there is a deep and consistent body of research on it stretching back over 90 years. The great bulk of research on retention says that it is a neutral intervention, at best, and harmful, at worst.” He added that retention should be one option to improve performance, but it shouldn't be mandatory.

DellaVecchia co-founded Don’t Leave Us Behind, an advocacy group that opposes mandatory retention. The group advocates for the improvement of literacy in Michigan that is equitable, evidence-based, and considers the overall well-being of the students.