By Lori Higgins

Gov. Rick Snyder today signed legislation -- approved by the Michigan Legislature last month -- that would require schools to hold back third-graders who are more than a grade level behind in the subject.

The provisions go into effect for the 2019-20 school year.

Not all third-graders who are behind would be held back, though. The new law allows parents to request an exemption to allow their child to move on to the fourth grade.

And there would be exemptions for a student who is new to a school and hasn't yet had time to catch up.

While the legislation would not go into effect immediately, school districts and charter schools, beginning with the 2017-18 school year, would have to have programs in place -- including screening programs and intervention programs -- designed to ensure that more students will be proficient in reading.

For instance, a screening and testing system would need to be in place for students in grades K-3 to identify students having difficulties.

"By helping students read proficiently by the third grade, we can make sure that our children have the necessary skills to do well in school and be successful for the rest of their lives," Snyder said in a statement.

(c)2016 the Detroit Free Press