LANSING – A stakeholder group pushing for providing all Michigan students with the best education possible announced its first set of priorities Friday, with a funding formula weighted toward equity and various programs needing more funding as well as improving literacy rates being among the top targeted areas.

Launch Michigan officials in a release said its priorities would ensure a strong education for all students and help build a more prepared and skilled workforce.

For the issue of funding, the group of education, labor and business stakeholders has come out in favor of a weighted school funding formula with a focus on equity and in making evidence-based investments in students with the greatest needs.

“Across the business, education and philanthropic communities, we have agreed to no longer watch our kids continue to fall behind in a global economy that demands a skilled workforce more every day,” Rob Fowler, chief executive officer of the Small Business Association of Michigan and Launch Michigan steering committee member said in a statement.

The group is specifically in favor of increasing funding for special education, students who live in poverty, English language learners and career and technical education programs.

Literacy rates is another area for Launch Michigan that officials said needs significant improvement. To this end, the group favors increasing the number of literacy coaches in schools as well as finding and adopting exceptional curriculum materials and supports for students. Educators also need more access to professional learning on literacy best practices.

“Starting with these two steps will help all Michigan students achieve and succeed, regardless of zip code, income, learning challenges and other circumstances,” said Chris Wigent, executive director of the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators and a Launch Michigan steering committee member.

The outline of the group’s priorities comes a day after the state released showing 54 percent of third grade students were rated “not proficient” or “partially proficient” in the English language portion of the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress exam.

Launch Michigan plans on continuing conversations with stakeholders and state leaders and hopes to provide Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Legislature with recommendations on the two priorities by the end of the year.