The bad news: A Harvard Study using data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) finds that Wisconsin ranks 38th out of 41 states in progress in reading and math between 1992 and 2011. Both low and high performing states from 1992 have outperformed us, and they tend to be states where serious reforms were made in instructional content and pedagogy. The top 10 show up on many lists of states with improved reading instruction: Maryland, Florida, Delaware, Massachusetts, Louisiana, South Carolina, New Jersey, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Virginia. Some of these states served as models for our recent Wisconsin legislation on early reading screening and a new reading exam for teacher licensure. A logical next step is to look at what they are doing for professional development for their in-service teachers of reading. Which leads to . . .
The good news: A committed group of 38 teachers and tutors will spend 12 Saturdays in 2013 being trained in LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling). LETRS is a comprehensive professional development program created by Louisa Moats, the primary author of the foundational reading standards of the Common Core State Standards. LETRS is quite common elsewhere in the country: in some states it is the official state-funded development tool for teachers of reading, and in some cases it is required for certain teaching licenses. Despite its popularity and proven value, it has not been available in Wisconsin. The current opportunity is being sponsored by the Milwaukee Summer Reading Project, an initiative of Howard Fuller’s Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University. UW-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education is hosting at their conference facilities in downtown Milwaukee. The training is being presented by Alicia Sparks through the Rowland Reading Foundation, which is a LETRS affiliate site. Participants include teachers from public and charter schools in Milwaukee and Wausau, as well as tutors from a variety of literacy programs for children and adults in Milwaukee and Madison. This training is at capacity, but other communities interested in sponsoring LETRS training can contact the Rowland Reading Foundation in Middleton.