Your action requested on Wisconsin DPI’s emergency rule (Foundations of Reading/MTEL)

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email:

Citing anecdotal evidence of a shortage of fully licensed teachers for available positions, DPI has issued an emergency rule that would allow many in-state and out-of-state individuals to become licensed and act as teachers-of-record in the classroom without passing the Foundations of Reading Test (FORT). The work-around to avoid the statutory FORT requirement involves the creation of one-year and three-year licenses with stipulations. More details are available in this document as well as in the rule itself. (The rule also lowers the bar for gaining admission to an educator preparation program.)

Absent some data, the public has no way of knowing if there is a shortage of candidates in some subjects or geographic areas. Likewise, the public has no way of knowing whether the FORT is creating a significant barrier to individuals becoming licensed. Despite a statutory requirement to post FORT passage rates annually, no reports have been published for the past three years. Even if there is a teacher shortage, and it is caused by failure to pass the FORT, Wisconsin Reading Coalition feels the emphasis should be on improving educator preparation, not creating ways to avoid the test.

If you feel it is important to both our teachers and our students to require successful completion of the FORT for elementary, special education, reading teacher, and reading specialist positions, regardless of the type of license granted, please comment to DPI online by July 21st, or attend the public hearing on Thursday, July 6, from 2:30 to 4:00 in Room P41 of DPI’s GEF 3 building, 125 S. Webster St., Madison, WI 53707.

It will also be helpful if you send a copy of your comments to Sen. Luther Olsen (, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, who was instrumental in putting the FORT requirement into law in 2011, Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, and the legislators from your own district.

Acquiring the knowledge and skills assessed by the FORT is essential for our teachers to be successful teaching all students, and critical to the quality of education our children receive.

Thank you for your help.

Notes and links: Foundations of Reading results (Wisconsin’s first, small attempt at teacher content knowledge requirements)

MTEL (Massachusetts’ extensive teacher content knowledge requirements).

Comment on the Wisconsin DPI’s proposed weakened teacher license standards (and content knowledge).