Click here to view Read to Lead Task Force report
“By the time children reach 4th grade, they are no longer learning to read, but instead, reading to learn. As it stands today, nearly one third of all Wisconsin students cannot read at a third grade level, and that is simply unacceptable.”
-- Governor Scott Walker, March 31, 2011
There is no skill as important for future success than the ability to read, and it's a skill too many Wisconsin children don't have. Governor Scott Walker made it a priority to put in place an ambitious literacy plan, so all children across the state have the greatest chance to succeed in everything they do.
In March of 2011, Gov. Walker convened the bipartisan “Read to Lead” Task Force, made up of a dynamic and diverse leadership team of teachers, legislators, researchers and advocates, co-chaired by State Superintendent Tony Evers. Together, they came up with a comprehensive plan to identify struggling students and make sure they get the help they need BEFORE it’s too late to catch up.
Over the past two decades, students in other states have been improving their reading achievement on national measures faster than students in Wisconsin. The results from the 2011 NAEP reading assessment for 4th grade students show that while Wisconsin once ranked among the very top states in the nation, we now rank somewhere in the middle of the pack. The literacy skills a child acquires in the early years of life provide the foundation for all later learning, and research has demonstrated that a child who is reading on grade level by the end of third grade is far more likely to graduate high school than a student who is not.
The recommendations of the Read to Lead Task Force focus on improvements and changes in teacher preparation and professional development; screening, assessment and intervention; early childhood; accountability; and family involvement. They include:
· Implementing early literacy screening for all kindergarteners in Wisconsin to identify and intervene with struggling students as soon as they enter school;
· Strengthening YoungStar, the statewide childcare rating system, to include more specific early literacy criteria to identify and support struggling readers as soon as possible;
· Implementing improvements to teacher preparation programs around early reading, including a new, more rigorous exam for reading educators;
· Requiring that the professional development plans for all new elementary educators explicitly focus on literacy, and require focused professional development educators whose students continually struggle to improve their performance;
· Providing new, aggressive professional development opportunities to enhance the skills of current reading educators, including a new online professional development portal at http://www.readwisconsin.net and an annual reading conference for elementary principals and district reading specialists; and
· Creating a new public/private partnership to engage Wisconsin philanthropic groups and businesses around the goal of ensuring every child can read by the end of third grade.
The Task Force’s recommendations also focus on how the state will hold our institutions accountable for improving reading results. Specifically:
· Wisconsin’s new educator effectiveness system, released in November 2011, will require a portion of every educator’s evaluation to be based on growth in statewide reading scores;
· Wisconsin’s new school and district accountability system, still under development, will place additional weight on third grade reading performance to underscore the importance of reading on grade level at that critical year; and
· Schools and districts underperforming in reading will be required to implement targeted improvements, including a science-based reading program.
This is the first phase of the Read to Lead initiative. Additional programs are in development so all Wisconsin children have the foundation they need to achieve success.