ANother Lost Decade: Madison’s Reading Crisis Continues

Simpson Street Free Press:

On the wall at Simpson Street is a feature editorial from the Wisconsin State Journal. The headline reads “Support State Reading Initiatives” and announces the launch of a bipartisan effort co-chaired by Tony Evers and Scott Walker. The editorial is dated September 12, 2012.

Local News and Numbers

Recent reports by Wisconsin State Journal, The Capital Times, Channel 3 News, Isthmus, and other news outlets paint a new, more tragic picture. Nothing has changed. Achievement gaps are worse.

Reporting on the latest round of Forward Exams, Logan Wroge of the Wisconsin State Journal points out that fewer than half of Wisconsin students are proficient or advanced in English/language arts or math, and that those numbers are going down. About 543,000 Wisconsin students in grades 3-8 took part in Forward Exams last school year.

Forward Exam results, as in previous years, show Madison students trailing state-wide averages.

“In grades 3-8, 34.8% of Madison students are proficient or advanced in English on the Forward Exam and 38.2% in Math,” according to the Wisconsin State Journal .

In the Madison school district, the percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced was stagnant or slightly down from 2017-18. Language arts dropped from “36.6% in 2017-18 to 34.9% last year. In math, the percentage went from 38.2% to 38.4%, and in social studies from 46.7% to 45.5%” according to The Capital Times.

Wisconsin DPI reports almost 60% of African-American students in Madison scored “below basic” in language arts on recent Forward exams. About 47% of Hispanic students scored below basic in English-Language Arts. Only 10.1% of black students and 16% of Hispanic students scored in one of the two highest categories (proficient or advanced) The Capital Times reported.

What’s more, students in the state of Mississippi continue to outperform kids living in Madison, Wisconsin.

Despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.