TO THE HONORABLE MEMBERS OF THE SENATE:
I am vetoing Senate Bill 454 in its entirety.
The bill would mandate school boards and independent charter schools to assess the early literacy skill of pupils in four-year-old kindergarten to second grade using repeated screening assessments throughout the year and to create a personal reading plan for each pupil in five-year-old kindergarten to second grade who is identified as at-risk. It would also mandate the Department of
Public Instruction establish and maintain lists of approved fundamental skills screening
assessments, universal screening assessments, and diagnostic assessments on its Internet site
based on alignment with model academic standards in reading and language arts, and a mandatory minimum sensitivity rate and specificity rate.
Further, this bill would mandate a school board, for
each school and the district, or operator of an independent charter, to annually submit a report to
the Department regarding the number of pupils identified as at-risk, the names of reading assessments used, and the number of pupils five-year-old kindergarten to second grade who receive
literacy interventions, all information which the Department would have to then annually compile
and report to the Legislature. The bill provides no additional funding to implement its new mandates
for additional testing or to address staffing or other resource needs necessary for implementation
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the prior two years have been especially challenging for
our kids, parents, and schools. We must work–and quickly-to address reading proficiency and
increase literacy success for every kid in our classrooms. I have advocated for some time, including during my time on the Read to Lead Task Force, for increased efforts at the state level to support our kids and our schools so we can ensure every student’s success. This dialogue, however, must be based on proven, evidence based practices, and cannot be independent from discussions about
the state’s obligation to provide meaningful, sustainable support for our classrooms and our
I am vetoing this bill in its entirety because I object to fundamentally overhauling Wisconsin literacy
instruction and intervention without evidence that more statewide, mandatory testing is the best
approach for our students, and without providing the funding needed for implementation. This bill
ultimately reduces valuable instruction time while asking schools to strain their existing resources,
instead of providing necessary funding to support the work educators, administrators, and staff are
currently doing to support reading and literacy for our students
In Wisconsin, fourth graders are on average not scoring high enough to be considered proficient in reading, according to their most recent performance measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the nation’s report card.
About 35% of the Wisconsin fourth grade students who took the test scored at or above proficient in reading — a proportion that has barely changed since 1992 when the test was first administered.
2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results
Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.
When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?