The Early Literacy and Beyond Task Force was established in December 2020, charged with analyzing promising approaches to literacy education and making recommendations to Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) and the teacher education programs at the University of Wisconsin -Madison School of Education (UW-SoE) to improve literacy outcomes and reduce gaps in MMSD student’s opportunities and outcomes. The Task Force members met between February and June 2021 to address the charges listed below.
1. Review and become familiar with the best evidence about the most effective ways to teach literacy in pre-kindergarten through Grade 12, and how to best develop future teachers who can better teach literacy in schools.
2. Identify how literacy, especially early literacy, is taught across MMSD, and analyze achievement data for MMSD students with respect to literacy.
3. Examine how literacy, especially early literacy, is taught to teacher education students at UW- SoE and analyze what these future teachers are learning about literacy.
4. Recommend steps that strengthen literacy instruction in the Madison schools and UW-Madison teacher education programs.
The Task Force included 14 members, seven each from MMSD and UW-Madison who were experts in literacy and equity – the central foci of the effort. The project was managed by Dr. Jen Schoepke who holds positions in both organizations. Task Force members worked collaboratively as a whole group focused on the fourth charge listed above and in three subcommittees focused on the first three charges. To facilitate cross-fertilization and leverage our collective knowledge, each subcommittee included representatives from MMSD and UW-Madison.
Task Force members kept children and equity at the center of our work and our recognition that behind every data point was a child and a family with aspirations for success. The Task Force focused on the demand for social justice and the ways that reading can empower young people with the opportunity to create a more just future.2 Several things were abundantly clear through Task Force dialogue: (1) student’s opportunities and outcomes need to be more equitable; (2) all of our children need improved literacy outcomes, and (3) it is our collective responsibility to put systems, processes, and pedagogy in place that allows the excellence within our children to shine.
Building on a long-standing culture of collaboration across MMSD and UW-SoE, this report was developed through a true partnership, with an explicit focus on literacy instruction as an equity strategy. Task Force members agree that we need urgent change grounded in reflective, evidence-based practice. This report is meant to spur such transformation in MMSD and UW-SoE so we can realize the moral imperative to get all of our children to read successfully and at high levels. The Task Force submits this report to MMSD and UW-SoE leadership for their consideration, knowing that its recommendations are just the beginning of the work that needs to be done. This task force report represents the collective work of the Task Force members, not perspectives or viewpoints of any one individual.
Madison’s literacy task force report background, notes and links.