Last Thursday (4/28), State Superintendent Dr. Jill Underly convened the first meeting of a new State Superintendent’s Reading Advisory Council. The online meeting was the first of several such meetings.
Collectively, the Reading Advisory Council’s membership represents a variety of geographical areas, school district sizes, races, ethnicities, and reading philosophies. Council members are expected to bring their expertise about early literacy to the Council and to learn together and share information and recommendations with DPI about how to strengthen literacy learning in Wisconsin’s schools.
The Council’s initial focus will be on early reading (through grade two). It will hold a series of online meetings that will be open to the public as observers but will not include public participation.
According to information shared with council members, because parents and families are students first teachers, the Council’s first area of inquiry will surround family engagement. After hearing and learning from researchers who focus on the topics of literacy and family engagement, the Council will formulate recommendations to the DPI about what they have learned from those family engagement presentations and how to share that information with Wisconsin school districts. From there, the Council will shift its focus to processes for reading improvement planning at the state, district and school levels.
Early literacy was a focus of numerous lawmakers during the 2021-22 legislative session and proposals on how best to strengthen early literacy are expected to be debated when the next Legislature convenes in January 2023. It is expected that the Council’s recommendations will be part of the mix of ideas to be considered in the 2023-24 legislative session.
Bills calling for a massive overhaul of the state’s reading readiness statutes were introduced in both houses last session. Those bills included a laundry list of stringent new state mandates relating to screening, assessments, interventions, parental notifications and reporting requirements. Both overhaul bills that were passed by the Legislature were vetoed by Governor Tony Evers.