Commentary on Wisconsin’s Disastrous Reading Climate

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, Via a kind email:

New Wisconsin Group Issues a Call to Action for Reading Excellence
On February 12th, a new group called WI-CARE – Wisconsin Call to Action for Reading Excellence – issued a Call to Action for DPI, detailing five areas of concern. You can watch their press conference on Wisconsin Eye and read commentary in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Wisconsin State Journal.

Some Efforts Are Already Underway
DPI issued a statement in January indicating a new focus on explicit, systematic phonics, and Madison Metropolitan School Districtsays it is focusing on explicit, structured phonics as it moves through a process to adopt new English Language Arts instructional materials. We will be watching with great interest for details.

Reading League Wisconsin Sell-Out Demonstrates High Interest Among Teachers
Wisconsin’s new professional development organization, Reading League Wisconsin, expanded the venue for its April 14th kickoff event in Wausau after a quick sell-out of seats. Registration has reopened to accommodate additional educators wanting to hear from national experts Susan Hall and Pati Montgomery.

Free Sopris Voyager Webinar to Demonstrate Analysis of NAEP Data
Voyager Sopris Learning presents Wisconsin Reading Coalition founding member Dr. Steven Dykstra explaining how to navigate the NAEP Data Explorer to move beyond cookie cutter reports on state performance. You can catch this free webinar on Wednesday, February 19th, at 3:00 CT, or watch it later on demand. Dykstra will demonstrate how to use this powerful tool to ask better questions and find better answers.

Of Course, There Is Always Some Pushback
Various blogs, podcast, and tweets in Wisconsin have been mentioning a position taken by Jeffrey Bowers which minimizes the importance of systematic phonics instruction. Any time an author espouses views that seem to fly in the face of settled science, it’s wise to take a closer look before coming to any conclusions. Jennifer Buckingham does an excellent job of critiquing Bowers in her article, “The grass is not greener on Jeffrey Bowers’ side of the fence: Systematic phonics belongs in evidence-based reading programs.”