Wisconsin Outlines Plan for Early Reading Improvement

Taking recommendations from his Read to Lead task force, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker outlined Wednesday a new agenda to improve reading scores among the state's students.
by | January 4, 2012
 

Taking recommendations from his Read to Lead task force, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker outlined Wednesday a new agenda to improve reading scores among the state's students.

The task force, formed by Walker last spring, was comprised of legislators, teachers, researchers and education advocates, according to a press release from the governor's office. After being asked to develop a plan for improving the state's reading achievement, they issued a series of recommendations this week. In the release, Walker said some of the proposals could be pursued through existing education efforts, while others would require legislation.

The task force's recommendations include:

  • Implement early literacy screening in kindergarten to identify struggling students
  • Add literacy criteria to statewide rating system of early childcare programs
  • Improve teacher preparation programs with a focus on early reading
  • Require professional development plans for new elementary teachers to focus on early reading
  • Create public-private partnerships with philanthropic groups and businesses aimed at improving reading

Also outlined in the task force's report were guidelines for maintaining accountability:

  • The state's new teacher effectiveness evaluations will require portion of evaluations to be based on statewide reading scores
  • School and district accountability systems, currently under development, will place emphasis on third-grade reading performance
  • Underperforming schools and districts will be required to develop targeted plans for improvement

The task force cited Wisconsin's stagnant showing in the fourth-grade reading section of the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress as evidence of the need for action. In 1994, the state was tied for second in the nation; it has since dropped to the middle of the pack. The percent of students at or above the basic reading level has dropped slightly from 71 percent to 68 percent in that time.

"For Wisconsin students to know how to read by fourth grade is critical to their education and their success in the future." Walker said in a statement. "We need to make sure we are not failing them."

A copy of the Read to Lead task force's report is below.

 

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