Skip to comments.Walker unveils plans for boosting reading skills
Posted on 01/05/2012 4:23:40 AM PST by afraidfortherepublic
Gov. Scott Walker and the state schools superintendent unveiled a task force's recommendations Wednesday for how Wisconsin might ensure that every child can read by the end of the third grade, including testing incoming kindergarteners' reading proficiency, providing teachers with more training opportunities and holding teachers to higher standards.
Walker formed the Read to Lead task force in March after reading tests showed Wisconsin students were falling behind students in other states. He and state Superintendent Tony Evers unveiled the recommendations at a public school in the Milwaukee suburb of Greendale.
They called the recommendations an "aggressive plan to improve reading outcomes in Wisconsin," and Evers said he expects the effort to result in better reading scores.
Some of the recommendations, like requiring statewide screening of every incoming kindergartner to identify and help those who are struggling, would require legislative approval. Others, like making more professional development resources available to teachers through the Department of Public Instruction website, were being implemented immediately.
"We don't want to be complacent in how we teach reading because it's fundamental," said Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, who was on the task force and chairs the Senate's Education Committee.
Walker said he was confident the Legislature, currently controlled by Republicans, could act on the recommendations this spring with bipartisan support.
State Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts, the ranking Democrat on the Assembly Education Committee, raised no concerns about any of the recommendations. However, she said their success will depend on how much money is spent implementing them.
"It is disingenuous to believe these recommendations can be successful without adequate funding to support them," she said in a statement.
The report did not say how much the recommendations would cost or how they would be funded.
Mary Bell, president of the statewide teachers union that fought bitterly with Walker over collective bargaining rights and cuts to school aid last year, issued a statement saying the governor's record doesn't instill confidence about him wanting to improve education for Wisconsin students.
The task force included teachers, administrators, two Republican and one Democratic lawmaker, reading advocates, community leaders and others.
Evers, who has been on the opposite side of Walker on several political issues affecting education including the governor's measure taking away nearly all collective bargaining rights for teachers, signed on to the reading effort.
Only two lawmakers from the task force were at the announcement: Olsen and Rep. Steve Kestell, R-Elkhart Lake. Kestell said the task force worked together to come to a unanimous position on the effort.
In 1994, Wisconsin was second only to Maine in fourth-grade reading scores in the National Assessment of Educational Progress test. But as of last year, Wisconsin ranked below 15 states or jurisdictions. Wisconsin's growth over that time was lower than 35 others.
"We have persistent stagnation in our reading performance across the state of Wisconsin," Evers said. "That can no longer be tolerated."
Many of the recommendations focus on improving teachers' ability to instruct reading, although both Walker and Evers said the intention was not to place the blame or burden entirely on teachers.
The report calls for improving teacher education programs, including a more rigorous reading exam for instructors in that field. Additionally, the state's new teacher accountability system will require a portion of every teacher's evaluation to be based on growth in statewide reading scores. The state's new school and district accountability system, which is under development, will also give extra weight to how students perform on third grade reading tests.
Students that don't meet targets will be forced to make improvements, including a science-based reading program.
All new elementary school teachers would also be required to have a focus on literacy in their professional development plans. A new annual reading conference for elementary school principals and district reading specialists also is planned.
Walker said the state's YoungStar program, which rates childcare providers, would include specific early literacy criteria to identify and support struggling readers even before they enter school. That change does not require legislative approval.
One that may, however, is creating a new public-private partnership to involve philanthropic groups and businesses with the goal of better educating children in reading. The exact details are being worked out, Kestell said, and he didn't know for sure if it would need legislative approval. When asked for an example of the partnership, he said it might include a business giving money to help teachers get more in-service training.
He will also provide educational services to Democraps in the legislature who spend most of their time in a hotel in Chicago... /sarc
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I no longer believe that programs like this can significantly improve aggregate reading skills. If the parents don’t care enough to work with their children, the results will be very disappointing. I still think that the read-a-book-each-night-to-the-kids-at-bedtime method is one of the most effective reading stimuli ever developed.
Anyone doing just a cursory examination of education in the last century should be shocked.
Does it really require a “task force”, the State Legislature, and a bajillion tax dollars to teach children to read? How did our pioneer forbears manage without?
The answer is worse than one can imagine. The “progressives” in education at the end of the 19th century - like John Dewey - wanted to turn education into a form of socialization versus learning to effectively read and retaining facts. This is why you’ll hear the mantra against “rote memorization”.
Believe it or not, (if you can read) the idea was to literally dumb down education and students in order to stifle critical thinking and independent thought. The deeper one digs into this stuff, one starts to understand the madness. It’s a form of child abuse, and the test scores in the last 100 years are proof.
No doubt this will be seen as a direct attack on the Teachers’ Union.
What a cruel suggestion. Why, you’re likely to damage thei little psyches by holding them back...s/off
I still think that the read-a-book-each-night-to-the-kids-at-bedtime method is one of the most effective reading stimuli ever developed.
One of the most important things you can do for your child. I read every night to them. As they learned the words, they were eventually reading to me. All grew up with above average reading skills. These days, parents cant put their phones down long enough to get thru a book.
I agree. I would strongly recommend reading the book “Clergy in the Classroom” by David A. Noebel. This book...in my opinion...gives as clear a picture about the goals and plans of those that started and now run our public school system as any that I have read...and I have read several. Most of the book is laid out in “Exhibits” which are examples of the writings of people like John Dewey, Curtis Reese, Charles Francis Potter, Julian Huxley, Edwin H Wilson, Paul Kurtz, as well as several others. There is nothing like pointing to their own words to show the plan...and that they are actually doing very well according to their plan.
For the record...no it does not. My wife and I have home schooled our seven children and they are all avid readers...at times it is difficult to keep the new books coming into the house fast enough...we now have a personal library well into the thousands. All of this without any help from the government and no tax money...by my account I have saved the taxpayer a ton of money. The school district I live in currently spends $11,300 per student per year. If I do the math of seven kids at $11,300 each that means I am saving the tax payer $79,100 each year by home schooling them. Multiple that by 13 years (K-12) and it comes out to a total of $1,028,300. Wow, I can save that kind of money and my children are better educated then any of the public school children that I have contact with...sounds like a deal to me.
What struck me is discovering in the record the decline in literacy and core skills between the World Wars, due to those new-fangled wonderful ideas in education. I.Q. testing was really ramped up for “The Great War To End All Wars” in order to determine aptitude for different military specialties.
The level of reading comprehension went down! Critics even claim that dyslexia is _mostly caused_ by the “see and say” method of reading instruction!
I never really looked at that period of time but this would make some sense to me. We had a large number of young men that came back from the war that had now “seen the world” and would have moved into the cities...larger schools instead of the one room school house...and would have spent more time on recreation...the “roaring twenties”...so they had less time to spend with their own children. After that they then had to deal with the depression and the strain that it would have been on the family unit. This would of course be a prime opportunity for the “progressives” to push the “it takes a village” garbage on the American family and have a lot of the parents by into it. Then with the start of WW2 you had a lot of fathers off to war and mom had to fill the jobs for the war effort...so the young ones got warehoused in public schools.
So I can see how the reading levels would have gone down during that period.
I totally agree with you. Unfortunately many parents fail in this. That is why other, much less effective, means are promoted.
Sounds like a good plan to me.