Madison–Today Governor Scott Walker thanked State Superintendent Tony Evers for his work in implementing an important part of 2011 Wisconsin Act 166, the bipartisan Read to Lead bill. DPI recently sent a letter to school administrators announcing its selection of the reading screener, the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) assessment developed by the University of Virginia, that will be provided to schools.
“Today’s action gets us one step closer to our goal of ensuring every Wisconsin teacher and parent knows how their child is progressing in reading as soon as they enter kindergarten,” said Governor Walker. “Children must learn to read before they can use reading to learn other material and skills. This new screener will enable teachers and parents to find out which children are struggling, and more importantly, identify the reasons why so that they can be helped.”
The legislation, which passed on wide bipartisan votes in both the Senate and Assembly, allocated $800,000 in existing funds from the 2011-13 budget toward a universal five-year-old kindergarten screener. The assessment tool evaluates literacy fundamentals and is scheduled to be administered beginning in the 2012-13 school year. The funds will be used to adopt the screener and provide quality teacher training on how to administer the assessment and act on its results.
Act 166 implements the major recommendations of Governor Walker’s Read to Lead Task Force, a bipartisan group of reading teachers, researchers, advocates, and legislators. Other provisions of the Read to Lead legislation include:
The Read to Lead Development Council—a public-private partnership to support and expand reading programs that are working throughout Wisconsin
The Read to Lead Development Council is aimed at finding what works and, along with private partners, funding broader replication throughout the state. The Superintendent and Governor will jointly decide the size of grants based on recommendations from board members. Non-state employee members will also assist in growing the fund’s reach. Programs funded might include afterschool, parent outreach, or teacher professional development efforts. The bill will allocate $400,000 in existing funds from the 2011-13 budget to help the fund get started.
Ensuring Teachers Are Prepared—a new, more rigorous test for new elementary and reading teachers
Massachusetts ranks better in reading than every other state by a statistically significant margin. Wisconsin will model the new reading portion of its licensure test on Massachusetts’ exam to ensure teachers are equipped with the latest research on reading. The Praxis II will be revised to include the new reading questions for all new K-5 and special education teachers. For practicing educators, the test will be voluntary.
A Fair Evaluation System for Teachers and Principals
The evaluation system was developed with teachers and administrators to fairly evaluate all educators. Rather than using raw test scores, the evaluation system puts teachers on a level playing field, regardless of the students assigned to them, through the use of value-added growth. The system uses multiple measures of educator practice (50%) and student outcomes (50%). Teachers will work collaboratively with their administrators to set student learning goals and will receive constructive, regular, and specific feedback to continually improve.
Teacher Preparatory Program Evaluations
The bill also establishes a new collaborative process with the higher education community to further improve Wisconsin teacher preparatory programs by reviewing the performance of recent graduates.
Governor Walker thanked Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), Rep. Steve Kestell (R-Elkhart Lake), and State Superintendent Tony Evers for their work on these important reforms.
For more information on Governor Walker’s Read to Lead initiative, please visit www.read.wi.gov.