Select Page

Legislative Update


Education committee schedules public hearing on slew of bills dealing with dyslexia/reading instruction

by | Jan 31, 2020 | Legislative Update Blog, State Issue | 0 comments

The Assembly Committees on Education will hold a public hearing on Thursday, February 6 at 9:00 a.m. in Room 417 North, State Capitol. The committee, chaired by state Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), is scheduled to take public testimony on the following bills, most of which are authored by Rep. Bob Kulp (R-Stratford) in conjunction with the Wisconsin Branch of the International Dyslexia Association and relate to reading instruction/dyslexia. Included are unfunded mandates for dyslexia plans, school staff training and CESA hiring of dyslexia specialists.  There is also a bill implementing yet more changes to the required reading readiness assessments.

We want to be clear that the WASB believes these are well-intentioned efforts to improve reading instruction in our schools.  We also want to be clear that the WASB has no resolutions relating to specific strategies of reading instruction or how best to address dyslexia or other reading difficulties other than supporting the creation of a dyslexia guidebook.  Our concerns with these bills stem from our members’ directive of opposing unfunded state mandates and preference for local control/flexibility.  It is also our understanding that the strategies mandated in these proposals are not currently supported by all reading experts/specialists/associations in the state.

Assembly Bill 594 Relating to: requirements for teacher preparatory programs in this state, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, and requiring the exercise of rule-making authority.

This bill places various requirements on teacher preparatory programs including that the program must provide at least six credits of instruction in literacy theory, skills, and processes (literacy instruction) to individuals in the program who intend to apply for a license to teach kindergarten to fifth grade, a license to teach special education, a reading teacher license, or a reading specialist license. Under the bill, the literacy instruction must align with the Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading from the International Dyslexia Association. 

The WASB is monitoring this proposal.  It does not affect K-12 schools directly, but rather affects teacher training institutions.

Assembly Bill 595 Relating to: grants for teachers who receive certain credentials in advanced structured literacy and making an appropriation.

Under current law, the Department of Public Instruction administers a grant program for teachers who are certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards or licensed by DPI as a master educator. This bill expands this grant programs to teachers with certifications from additional specified entities.

The WASB is monitoring this proposal.

Assembly Bill 601 Relating to: requiring an online dyslexia awareness training for school district employees.

This bill requires the Department of Public Instruction, in consultation with the International Dyslexia Association–Wisconsin Branch, Inc., to develop or adopt an online dyslexia awareness training. The training must cover the indicators of dyslexia and evidence-based interventions and adaptations for dyslexia. Additionally, if DPI develops the online dyslexia awareness training, the bill requires DPI to design the training so that it can be completed in no more than two hours.
 
Under the bill, in the 2020-21 school year, each school board must require each teacher, supervisor, administrator, professional staff member, and paraprofessional staff member in the school district to complete the online dyslexia awareness training. Beginning in the 2021-22 school year, the bill requires each school board to require each newly hired teacher, supervisor, administrator, professional staff member, and paraprofessional staff member to complete the online dyslexia training within six months of becoming an employee of the school district.
 
The WASB opposes this bill on the grounds that it is an unfunded state mandate.
 

Assembly Bill 603 Relating to: publishing Foundations of Reading test scores.

This bill requires the Department of Public Instruction to annually publish Foundations of Reading test scores DPI receives from the entity that administers the test.
 
The WASB is monitoring this proposal.
 

Assembly Bill 604 Relating to: programs to identify and address pupils with dyslexia in public schools.

This bill requires a school board to develop or adopt a program to identify and address pupils with dyslexia.

The WASB opposes this bill on the grounds that it is an unfunded state mandate.

Assembly Bill 632 Relating to: assessments to evaluate reading readiness.

Under current law, each school board and operator of an independent charter school must annually assess the reading readiness of pupils in four-year-old kindergarten through second grade using a locally selected assessment. Current law requires that the assessment selected by the school district or operator of the independent charter school must evaluate whether a pupil possesses phonemic awareness and letter sound knowledge.
 
Under the bill, beginning in the 2020-21 school year, each school board and operator of an independent charter school must assess pupils in four-year-old kindergarten through second grade for reading readiness and reading difficulties using an assessment selected by the school board or operator of the independent charter school and a voluntary questionnaire about reading difficulties in a pupil’s family history. The bill further specifies that the assessment selected by the school board or operator of the independent charter school must evaluate whether a pupil possesses age-appropriate skills in phonological and phonemic awareness, rapid automatized naming, letter-word reading, and picture-naming vocabulary.
 
The WASB is taking an initial stance of opposing this bill because we have a number of concerns and questions relating to it.  Since the reading readiness assessments were mandated on school districts, the definitions that were originally written to direct schools to a certain provider’s assessment have changed several times.  First, the statutory requirements were worded to require districts to use the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) assessment. Then, they were expanded to allow more flexibility to use other assessments as well as PALS.  Now, it seems, opinion has shifted to yet another assessment, Predictive Assessment of Reading (PAR). 
 
We are concerned with the staff time required to learn to administer yet another assessment and the disruptive nature of continually changing assessments.  We are also concerned about legislation that would appear to create a monopoly status for a particular provider who would be the sole source for an assessment that meets the bill’s requirements.  We are interested in knowing whether and to what extent schools would be able to continue using their current assessments. If schools have to scrap their current reading readiness assessments, valuable longitudinal data could be lost, making it harder for schools to evaluate their reading curriculum and instructional practices.
 

Assembly Bill 635 Relating to: requiring each cooperative educational service agency to employ a dyslexia specialist.

Beginning in the 2020-21 school year, this bill requires the board of control of each cooperative educational service agency to employ a dyslexia specialist. The bill defines a dyslexia specialist as an individual who meets specific criteria, including that the individual has at least five years experience in screening, identifying, and treating dyslexia and related conditions and that the individual has received advanced training in various topics related to dyslexia and related conditions.

The WASB opposes this bill on the grounds that it is an unfunded state mandate.

Assembly Bill 810 Relating to: creating a computerized uniform school budget and accounting system.

The bill would create a committee on uniform school budget and accounting and would require the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to, after considering recommendations from the committee, establish a new computerized uniform budget and accounting system for the transmission of financial information from school districts, independent charter schools, and county children with disabilities education boards to DPI.

See this previous post on our analysis of this bill. Our member-approved resolutions support efforts to provide public accountability and transparency for ALL schools that receive taxpayer dollars. For this reason, we are concerned that the bill would not apply to private schools that receive taxpayer subsidized vouchers and have an impact on property tax bills. The draft does apply to independent charter schools which are funded using a similar mechanism to private voucher schools.

Assembly Bill 779 Relating to: participation in interscholastic athletics and extracurricular activities.

This bill would allow virtual charter school students who reside in a district to participate in district athletics and other extracurricular activities.  It would also require the WIAA to mandate to member school districts that they allow virtual charter school students who reside in the district to participate in athletics and other extracurricular activities.

We have also previously posted analysis of this bill. The WASB opposes this bill based on our member-approved resolutions.

NOTES on the hearing format:

  • The Public hearing will begin immediately following a committee vote on AB 737.

  • Testimony time limits may be imposed at the Chair’s discretion in order to ensure that as many citizens as possible are able to testify. The public hearing will conclude no later than 5:00 p.m.

  • The Committee will receive testimony on bills in the noticed order, except that the committee will pause ongoing testimony and hear AB 810 and AB 799 beginning at noon. After testimony on AB 810 and AB 779 is complete, the committee will resume testimony on the remaining bills.

 

print

Subscribe to one or both WASB blogs!

* indicates required
WASB Blogs

Follow WASB on Twitter

WI School Boards

#2020EdCon attendees, have you told your colleagues about Shane Feldman's keynote talk? To help explain, send them this collection of Tweets that hits the high notes of his talk: ow.ly/Y8nH50ypu8H pic.twitter.com/afCRjU8pc0

Like WASB on Facebook