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Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Examination Results



The Foundations of Reading, Wisconsin’s one elementary reading teacher content knowledge requirement is (was) an attempt to improve our K-12 students’ disastrous reading results.

Readers may find the Foundations of Reading results of interest (2.4MB xlsx). (3 February 2020: link updated to remove partial ss identifiers, via a kind DPI message).

The test is based on Massachusetts’ successful MTEL teacher content knowledge examination.

The Wisconsin DPI, long lead by Governor Tony Evers, has granted mulligans to thousands of teachers who failed to pass this reading content knowledge examination.

The information was obtained via an open records request to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.




Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Exam Results



Results, by ed school, via the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction:

October, 2015 data request:

January 2014-August 2014 .xls. .docx

September 2014-August 2015 .xls .docx

To Date (2015) .xls .docx

July 2017 Request:

2013-2014 .xls

2014-2015 .xls

2015-2016 .xls

2016 – YTD .xls

Much more on Wisconsin’s Foundation of Reading Teacher Content Knowledge exam, here.

Background: An MTEL toe dip, Wisconsin adds a teacher content knowledge exam – and later tries to waive it.




The empire strikes back on “sold a story”



Quinton Klabon

Nancy Carlsson-Paige, former Lesley University education professor/Matt Damon’s mom from that 1 Reason video: “I could barely stand [Sold A Story]…full of false information, misconceptions, and distortions of 3-cueing. She didn’t even understand it.”



More from Dr. Tim Slekar: Mary Kate McCoy:
We’re concerned about equity in education. You will never achieve equity by spending the few resources that you have, money, on tests. Tests don’t produce equity. They just show you that you have inequities. RF: Magic wand, testing is gone. We take the resources from that, put it in your control and do what with it to address these problems? TS: The first thing is to make sure that every kid coming to school has access to the best children’s literature available. Nothing is a better predictor of being able to learn to read when you get to school as having books in the house. So not one more dime under my leadership goes to testing companies. We’ve literally spent across the entire United States, some economists say, probably $1 trillion in tests and data systems. I guarantee you that half of that money could have been spent on reducing issues — so books, food for kids, adequate after school care and adequate health care. Then whatever is leftover goes back to the classroom for teachers, who as the teachers of those kids know what those kids need. And please not one more dime on professional development, sponsored usually by one of the testing companies that comes in and tries to tell the teachers they don’t know what they’re doing, do it our way and this will fix everything.
Advocating for the 2024 Milwaukee School District tax & spending increase referendum.

2017:
I strongly support the elimination of any high stakes standardized test as a gatekeeper to the teaching profession. That means PRAXIS, Core, and FoRT (Foundations of Reading Test). Each of these imposed gates has been detrimental to actually preparing the teachers our children deserve.
more in 2017:
Is there a way to avoid that horrible Foundations of Reading Test? Yes.
2020 Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Teacher Content Knowledge Test results.

Note that thousands of tests were waived by then Wisconsin DPI Superintendent and now Governor Tony Evers. Mulligans.

——

Legislation and Reading: The Wisconsin Experience 2004-


“One in five (teacher) test takers does not ever pass. Mulligans?



NCTQ:

Among the four core subjects, the greatest number of test takers pass the mathematics subtest, both on the first-attempt—the focus of this brief—and after multiple attempts (the “best-attempt” pass rate).2 This is surprising, perhaps, given the familiar anecdotes documenting elementary teachers’ math anxiety.

Where do aspiring teachers struggle the most?

It is the social studies subtest which test takers are the least likely to pass.

Low performance in social studies cannot be definitively explained, but NCTQ has documented the history and geography coursework taken by prospective teachers, finding little evidence that prospective teachers must take courses that are relevant to the social studies (and science) that is on these tests or that is taught in elementary grades.3

Note that Wisconsin data is “forthcoming”…

Related: Wisconsin Foundations of Reading elementary teacher content knowledge exam and Governor Evers extensive use of teacher mulligans.




Support modifications to the Wisconsin PI-34 educator licensing rule



Wisconsin Reading Coalition E-Alert:

We have sent the following message and attachment to the members of the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules, urging modifications to the proposed PI-34 educator licensing rule that will maintain the integrity of the statutory requirement that all new elementary, special education, and reading teachers, along with reading specialists, pass the Foundations of Reading Test. To see where these modifications fit in, use the most recent version of PI-34, which can be found at https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/code/chr/all/cr_17_093

Please contact the committee to express your support of these modifications. Your message will have extra impact if you are a constituent of any of the following committee members. Thank you for your assistance! Your voice is important.

Representative Ballweg (Co-Chair)

Senator Nass (Co-Chair)

Senator LeMahieu

Senator Stroebel

Senator Larson

Senator Wirch

Representative Neylon

Representative Ott

Representative Hebl

Representative Anderson

Memo to the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules

Thank you for putting the PI-34 licensing rule on hold to consider whether modifications should be made. As you know, Wisconsin Reading Coalition is interested in upholding the intent and integrity of the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test (FORT) for elementary, special education, and reading teachers, as well as the administrative position of reading specialist. We suggest the attached PI-34 modifications, which we drafted as narrowly as possible to impact only the FORT requirement. You may want to hold final action on PI-34 until the recommendations of the legislative study committee on dyslexia have been received.

In cases where a school district cannot find a fully licensed teacher of reading, we do support a one-year exemption from the FORT via a tier I license. However, we must remember that granting 1400 tier I licenses to individuals who failed the FORT means that approximately 28,000 beginning and struggling readers will have an underqualified teacher for that year. The teachers have that year to get up to speed, but the students don’t get a do-over. Exemption from the FORT for district need is a major concession, as it undoes statutory protection for students. This exemption should be as restrictive as possible, with passage of the FORT required before any license renewal.

We see no reason for PI-34 to allow exemptions from the FORT beyond situations of school district need or where it is statutorily required (e.g., online preparation under 118.197 and certain out-of-state teachers under 118.193). Further exemptions undo statutory protection for students without a compelling, overriding public interest. In promulgating these additional exemptions, DPI is essentially usurping legislative authority.

Ironically, while providing numerous avenues to get around the FORT, PI-34 does nothing to ensure that more individuals will be able to clear the FORT hurdle in the future. Subchapter III of PI-34 provides an opportunity for DPI to exercise its responsibility to set standards for educator preparation program approval, and to implement improvement plans for programs where large numbers of potential teachers are failing the FORT. We hope that the 2018 legislative study committee on dyslexia will put forward draft legislation that addresses this problem, as DPI has not addressed it on its own.

Despite being called “stakeholder revisions,” PI-34 ignores the important stakeholder groups of students and their families. The current draft heavily represents the special interests of school district administrators. In fact, this is what the director of one administrators’ organization said about PI-34: “ . . . you should understand that the rules proposal is not a product of DPI. It resulted from nearly two years of work by critical stakeholders to address the significant workforce issues facing the learning environments for children in Wisconsin’s schools.” Our recent conversations with DPI indicate that they may be amendable to amending the draft document. Undoubtedly, they have been under considerable pressure from school district administrators, judging from the talking points below.

Sincerely,

Wisconsin Reading Coalition

Talking Points for School District Administrators with WRC comments:

1. Wisconsin school districts are facing growing school staffing issues including high turnover, fewer applicants for positions, and candidate shortages in a variety of disciplines. With fewer new teachers entering the profession, new approaches to educator recruitment and retention are critical to ensure all children have access to high-quality educators. We are not opposed to an exemption from the FORT in true emergency cases where a district shows it is unable to hire a fully-licensed teacher, but we should not call these individuals high-quality educators. We are opposed to allowing those licenses to be renewed year-after-year without the teacher passing the FORT. A one-year time limit for passing the FORT would be sufficient to help districts meet immediate candidate shortages while working toward having a highly-qualified educator in that classroom.

2. The licensure flexibility afforded under CR17-093 is universally supported by school leaders in their effort to address the growing workforce challenges faced by Wisconsin school districts. This is simply inaccurate. There are school leaders, both superintendents and school board members, who have spoken against exemptions from the FORT.

3. We must also point out that districts are currently operating under these proposed rule changes as part of the current Emergency Rule. These proposals are already making a positive difference in meeting these workforce challenges in districts throughout Wisconsin. This is also inaccurate. The current Emergency Rule is much narrower than the proposed PI-34. It allows 1-year, renewable licenses with a FORT exemption only if the district shows it cannot find a fully-licensed teacher. The PI-34 draft allows any in-state or out-of-state graduate of an educator preparation program to obtain a Tier I license and teach in districts that have not shown shortages.

4. School administrators support all aspects of the proposed rule but, of particular importance are the flexibilities and candidate expanding aspects in the Tier 1 license. This will allow for a much-needed district sponsored pathway to licensure, immediate licensure for out of state candidates, licensing for speech and language pathologists with a Department of Safety and Professional Services license and licensing for individuals coming into a district on an internship or residency status. These are effective, no-cost solutions to a significant workforce need in Wisconsin school districts. We are opposed to district-sponsored and out-of-state pathways to licensure where the candidates do not have to take and pass the same outcome exams required of other educators. There is no reason to hold these programs to a lower standard. District-sponsored pathways to licensure surely come at some cost to the district, which is obligated to provide “appropriate professional development and supervision to assist the applicant in becoming proficient in the license program content guidelines.” They can also come at great cost to beginning and struggling readers if they are taught by someone who has not passed the FORT.

5. Educator licensure is simply a minimum requirement. District leadership is responsible for hiring and developing successful educators, and ultimately determining educator quality based on actual teacher performance and student outcomes. Districts and families should be able to count on licensed applicants having the basic information about reading that they will need to successfully teach all students on day one. This is particularly important in districts that have fewer applicants from which to choose. Leaving educator quality standards to Wisconsin districts over the years produced stagnant reading scores and a declining national ranking. Section 118.19(14) of the statutes was enacted to protect students and provide better outcomes for our society, not to provide ultimate flexibility to local administrators.

6. Reducing the Tier 1 license flexibility in the rule has the potential to impact as many as 2,400 teaching licenses, many of which are FORT-related stipulations. Any portion of these licensees that lose their ability to teach will exacerbate an already troubling workforce challenge and reduce educational opportunities for children. This concern can be met by maintaining a one-year emergency Tier I exception for districts that can show a fully-licensed candidate is not available. Eliminating the continuous renewal option for these licenses and requiring the FORT for district-sponsored pathway and other licenses will help ensure quality educational opportunities for children. The quality of the teachers is just as important as the quantity. Meanwhile, DPI should set appropriate standards in reading for educator preparation programs, and institute improvement plans for institutions that have low passing rates on the FORT. What does it say about Wisconsin that DPI reports there are over 1400 teachers in the classroom under Emergency Rules specifically because they have not passed the FORT? At some point, we need to address the root of the problem if we are to have sufficient numbers of highly-qualified teachers for every beginning or struggling reader.

Suggested Modifications (PDF).

Foundations of Reading: Wisconsin’ only teacher content knowledge requirement…

Compare with MTEL

Mark Seidenberg on Reading:

“Too often, according to Mark Seidenberg’s important, alarming new book, “Language at the Speed of Sight,” Johnny can’t read because schools of education didn’t give Johnny’s teachers the proper tools to show him how”

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

Tony Evers, currently runnng for Governor, has lead the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction since 2009. I wonder if anyone has addressed Wisconsin achievement challenges vis a vis his DPI record?

An emphasis on adult employment, also Zimman.

Alan Borsuk:

“I didn’t have one phone call, I don’t have one email about this NAEP data. But my phone can ring all day if there’s a fight at a school or can ring all day because a video has gone out about a board meeting. That’s got to change, that’s just got to change. …

“My best day will be when we have an auditorium full of people who are upset because of our student performance and our student achievement and because of the achievement gaps that we have. My question is, where is our community around these issues?




Requesting action one more time on Wisconsin PI-34 teacher licensing



Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email:

Thanks to everyone who contacted the legislature’s Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) with concerns about the new teacher licensing rules drafted by DPI. As you know, PI-34 provides broad exemptions from the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test (FORT) that go way beyond providing flexibility for districts to deal with emergency teacher shortage situations.

As a result of written and oral testimony on PI-34, the JCRAR put a hold on PI-34 and will meet again on July 13th. We hope at that time they will seek modifications to the rule to more closely align with the statutory requirement that new elementary teachers, special education teachers, reading teachers, and reading specialists pass the FORT. This statute was passed for the protection of our beginning and struggling readers, and to encourage educator preparation programs to do a better job of covering this basic content information about reading acquisition. It is particularly critical in a state like Wisconsin where student reading scores are low for all sub-groups and have not improved for over two decades.

Of course, there is pushback from the people who recommended these licensing changes to DPI. Various associations of school administrators have urged their members to lobby the JCRAR members in favor of allowing individuals to become teachers of record without passing the FORT. The talking points they have provided to their members are enumerated below, along with our comments.

Please contact the JCRAR once more in advance of July 13th, asking them to maintain the integrity of the statutory FORT requirement. Following are the members of the committee:

Representative Ballweg (Co-Chair)

Senator Nass (Co-Chair)

Senator LeMahieu

Senator Stroebel

Senator Larson

Senator Wirch

Representative Neylon

Representative Ott

Representative Hebl

Representative Anderson

Talking Points for School District Administrators with WRC comments:

Wisconsin school districts are facing growing school staffing issues including high turnover, fewer applicants for positions, and candidate shortages in a variety of disciplines. With fewer new teachers entering the profession, new approaches to educator recruitment and retention are critical to ensure all children have access to high-quality educators. We are not opposed to an exemption from the FORT in true emergency cases where a district shows it is unable to hire a fully-licensed teacher, but we should not call these individuals high-qualified educators. We are opposed to allowing those licenses to be renewed year-after-year without the teacher passing the FORT. A one-year time limit for passing the FORT would be sufficient to help districts meet immediate candidate shortages while working toward having a highly-qualified educator in that classroom.

The licensure flexibility afforded under CR17-093 is universally supported by school leaders in their effort to address the growing workforce challenges faced by Wisconsin school districts. This is simply inaccurate. There are school leaders, both superintendents and school board members, who have spoken against exemptions from the FORT.

We must also point out that districts are currently operating under these proposed rule changes as part of the current Emergency Rule. These proposals are already making a positive difference in meeting these workforce challenges in districts throughout Wisconsin. This is also inaccurate. The current Emergency Rule is much narrower than the proposed PI-34. It allows 1-year, renewable licenses with a FORT exemption only if the district shows it cannot find a fully-licensed teacher. PI-34 allows any in-state or out-of-state college graduate to obtain a Tier I license and teach in districts that have not shown shortages.

School administrators support all aspects of the proposed rule but, of particular importance are the flexibilities and candidate expanding aspects in the Tier 1 license. This will allow for a much-needed district sponsored pathway to licensure, immediate licensure for out of state candidates, licensing for speech and language pathologists with a Department of Safety and Professional Services license and licensing for individuals coming into a district on an internship or residency status. These are effective, no-cost solutions to a significant workforce need in Wisconsin school districts. We are opposed to district-sponsored and out-of-state pathways to licensure where the candidates do not have to take and pass the same outcome exams required of other educators. There is no reason to hold these programs to a lower standard.

Educator licensure is simply a minimum requirement. District leadership is responsible for hiring and developing successful educators, and ultimately determining educator quality based on actual teacher performance and student outcomes. District administrators and families should be able to count on licensed applicants having the basic information about reading that they will need to successfully teach all students on day one. This is particularly important in districts that have fewer applicants from which to choose.

Reducing the Tier 1 license flexibility in the rule has the potential to impact as many as 2,400 teaching licenses, many of which are FORT-related stipulations. Any portion of these licensees that lose their ability to teach will exacerbate an already troubling workforce challenge and reduce educational opportunities for children. This concern can be met by maintaining an one-year emergency exception for districts that can show a fully-licensed candidate is not available. Eliminating the continuous renewal option for these licenses and requiring the FORT for district-sponsored and out-of-state pathway licenses will help ensure quality educational opportunities for children. The quality of the teachers is just as important as the quantity. Meanwhile, DPI should set appropriate standards in reading for educator preparation programs, and institute improvement plans for institutions that have low passing rates on the FORT. What does it say about Wisconsin that we have over 1400 teachers in the classroom under Emergency Rules specifically because they have not passed the FORT? At some point, we need to address the root of the problem if we are to have sufficient numbers of highly-qualified teachers for every beginning or struggling reader.

Foundations of Reading: Wisconsin’ only teacher content knowledge requirement…

Compare with MTEL

Mark Seidenberg on Reading:

“Too often, according to Mark Seidenberg’s important, alarming new book, “Language at the Speed of Sight,” Johnny can’t read because schools of education didn’t give Johnny’s teachers the proper tools to show him how”

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

Tony Evers, currently runnng for Governor, has lead the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction since 2009. I wonder if anyone has addressed Wisconsin achievement challenges vis a vis his DPI record?

An emphasis on adult employment, also Zimman.

Alan Borsuk:

“I didn’t have one phone call, I don’t have one email about this NAEP data. But my phone can ring all day if there’s a fight at a school or can ring all day because a video has gone out about a board meeting. That’s got to change, that’s just got to change. …

“My best day will be when we have an auditorium full of people who are upset because of our student performance and our student achievement and because of the achievement gaps that we have. My question is, where is our community around these issues?




Wisconsin DPI efforts to weaken the Foundations of Reading Test for elementary teachers



Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email:

Wisconsin Reading Coalition has alerted you over the past 6 months to DPI’s intentions to change PI-34, the administrative rule that governs teacher licensing in Wisconsin. We consider those changes to allow overly-broad exemptions from the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test for new teachers. The revised PI-34 has gone through DPI public hearings and was sent to the education committees of the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate, where no action was taken.

PI-34 is now sitting with the Wisconsin Legislature Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, which is the last stop before it becomes a permanent rule. Because of concerns it has heard from Wisconsin Reading Coalition and other groups and individuals, the committee will hold a public hearing on Thursday, June 7th, at 10:00 AM in the State Capitol. We urge you to attend this hearing and make a statement. If you cannot attend, please consider sending an e-mail comment to the committee members prior to the hearing. A list of committee members follows. As always, it is a good idea to copy your own legislators. If you copy Wisconsin Reading Coalition, we will make sure your comments are delivered in hard copy.

To refresh your memory of the issues involved, please see this WRC memo to the Committee on Administrative Rules.

Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (contact information provided in links):

Representative Ballweg (Co-Chair)

Senator Nass (Co-Chair)

Senator LeMahieu

Senator Stroebel

Senator Larson

Senator Wirch

Representative Neylon

Representative Ott

Representative Hebl

Representative Anderson

Teachers and more than 180,000 non-proficient, struggling readers* in Wisconsin schools need our support:

*There are currently over 358,000 K-5 students in Wisconsin public schools alone.
51.7% of Wisconsin 4th graders were not proficient in reading on the 2016-17 state Forward exam. Non-proficient percentages varied among student sub-groups, as shown below in red and black, and ranged from approximately 70-80% in the lower-performing districts to 20-35% in higher-performing districts.

    While we appreciate DPI’s concerns with a possible shortage of teacher candidates in some subject and geographical areas, we feel it is important to maintain teacher quality standards while moving to expand pathways to teaching.

  • Statute section 118.19(14) currently requires new K-5 teachers, reading teachers, reading specialists, and special education teachers to pass the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test (WI-FORT) before getting an initial license to teach. The intent of this statute, passed in 2012 on a bipartisan vote following a recommendation of the non-partisan Read to Lead task force, was to enhance teacher quality by encouraging robust reading courses in educator preparation programs, and to ensure that beginning and struggling readers had an effective teacher. The WI-FORT is the same test given in Massachusetts, which has the highest 4th grade reading performance in the country. It covers basic content knowledge and application skills in the five components of foundational reading that are necessary for successfully teaching all students.
  • The annual state Forward exam and the newly-released results of the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) highlight the importance of having high-quality teachers in Wisconsin classrooms. 65% of our 4th graders were not proficient in reading on the NAEP. Our national ranking has slipped to 34th, and all sub-groups of students perform below their national averages. Our black students rank 49th among black students in the country, and our white students rank 41st.
  • The revised teacher licensure rules that DPI has presented to the legislature in the re-written administrative rule PI 34, create a new Tier I license that provides broad exemptions from the WI- FORT.
  • We encourage the education committees to table the adoption of this permanent rule until it is amended to better support teacher quality standards and align with the intent of statute 118.19(14).
  • We favor limiting the instances where the WI-FORT is waived to those in which a district proves it cannot find a fully-qualified teacher to hire, and limiting the duration of those licenses to one year, with reading taught under the supervision of an individual who has passed the WI-FORT. Renewals should not be permitted except in case of proven emergency.
  • We favor having DPI set out standards for reading instruction in educator preparation programs that encompass both the Standards for Reading Professionals (International Literacy Association) and the Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading (International Dyslexia Association). This will enable aspiring teachers to pass the WI-FORT and enter the classroom prepared to teach reading.
  • We favor having DPI implement a corrective action plan for educator preparation programs where fewer than 85% of students pass the WI-FORT on the first attempt in any year. Students putting in four years of tuition and effort should be able to expect to pass the WI-FORT.

Foundations of Reading: Wisconsin’ only teacher content knowledge requirement…

Compare with MTEL

Mark Seidenberg on Reading:

“Too often, according to Mark Seidenberg’s important, alarming new book, “Language at the Speed of Sight,” Johnny can’t read because schools of education didn’t give Johnny’s teachers the proper tools to show him how”

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

Tony Evers, currently runnng for Governor, has lead the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction since 2009. I wonder if anyone has addressed Wisconsin achievement challenges vis a vis his DPI record?

An emphasis on adult employment, also Zimman.

Alan Borsuk:

“I didn’t have one phone call, I don’t have one email about this NAEP data. But my phone can ring all day if there’s a fight at a school or can ring all day because a video has gone out about a board meeting. That’s got to change, that’s just got to change. …

“My best day will be when we have an auditorium full of people who are upset because of our student performance and our student achievement and because of the achievement gaps that we have. My question is, where is our community around these issues?




Commentary on Wisconsin DPI efforts to water down already thin elementary teacher content knowledge requirements.



Wisconsin Reading Coalition:

Teachers and more than 180,000 non-proficient, struggling readers* in Wisconsin schools need our support

While we appreciate DPI’s concerns with a possible shortage of teacher candidates in some subject and geographical areas, we feel it is important to maintain teacher quality standards while moving to expand pathways to teaching.

Statute section 118.19(14) currently requires new K-5 teachers, reading teachers, reading specialists, and special education teachers to pass the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test (WI-FORT) before getting an initial license to teach. The intent of this statute, passed in 2012 on a bipartisan vote following a recommendation of the non-partisan Read to Lead task force, was to enhance teacher quality by encouraging robust reading courses in educator preparation programs, and to ensure that beginning and struggling readers had an effective teacher. The WI-FORT is the same test given in Massachusetts, which has the highest 4th grade reading performance in the country. It covers basic content knowledge and application skills in the five components of foundational reading that are necessary for successfully teaching all students.

The annual state Forward exam and the newly-released results of the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) highlight the importance of having high-quality teachers in Wisconsin classrooms. 65% of our 4th graders were not proficient in reading on the NAEP. Our national ranking has slipped to 34th, and all sub-groups of students perform below their national averages. Our black students rank 49th among black students in the country, and our white students rank 41st.

The revised teacher licensure rules that DPI has presented to the legislature in the re-written administrative rule PI 34, create a new Tier I license that provides broad exemptions from the WI- FORT.

We encourage the education committees to table the adoption of this permanent rule until it is amended to better support teacher quality standards and align with the intent of statute 118.19(14).

We favor limiting the instances where the WI-FORT is waived to those in which a district proves it cannot find a fully-qualified teacher to hire, and limiting the duration of those licenses to one year, with reading taught under the supervision of an individual who has passed the WI-FORT. Renewals should not be permitted except in case of proven emergency.

We favor having DPI set out standards for reading instruction in educator preparation programs that encompass both the Standards for Reading Professionals (International Literacy Association) and the Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading (International Dyslexia Association). This will enable aspiring teachers to pass the WI-FORT and enter the classroom prepared to teach reading.

We favor having DPI implement a corrective action plan for educator preparation programs where fewer than 85% of students pass the WI-FORT on the first attempt in any year. Students putting in four years of tuition and effort should be able to expect to pass the WI-FORT.

As written, PI 34 provides the following exemptions from the WI-FORT that we find overly-broad:
34.028 (2) (a) and (c) will allow an in-state or out-of-state graduate of an educator preparation program to become a teacher of record, with full responsibility for students, under a Tier I license without passing the WI- FORT. An employing district need not show a lack of fully-qualified applicants for the position. The Tier I license is granted for one year, but then may be renewed indefinitely under 34.028 (4) (a) and (b) through a combination of teacher and district request without the teacher ever passing the WI-FORT.

34.028 (2) (d) will grant a Tier I license to any graduate of an accredited college or university without passing the WI-FORT if an employing school district conducts a search for a full-licensed candidate, but cannot find an acceptable candidate. This is the “emergency” situation of teacher shortage under which a Tier I license might be justified, provided the district conducts a thorough search and explains why any fully-licensed candidates were not acceptable. This Tier I license is also granted for one year, but then may be renewed indefinitely under 34.028 (4) (c) without the teacher passing the WI-FORT and without any further requirement that the district seek a fully-licensed teacher.

34.029 essentially allows districts to train their existing teachers (licensed under Tier I, II, III, or IV) for a new position not covered by their current license. The teacher is granted a Tier I license in the new subject or developmental level, and training consists of whatever professional development and supervision the district deems necessary. These teachers do not need to pass the WI-FORT, either at the beginning or conclusion of their training, even if their new position would otherwise require it. The district need not show that it cannot find a fully-licensed teacher for the position. This license is granted for three years, at which point the district may request a jump-up to a lifetime Tier III license for the teacher in this new position. District training programs may be as effective as traditional preparation programs in teaching reading content, but without the teachers taking the WI-FORT, there is no way to objectively know the level of their expertise.

*There are currently over 358,000 K-5 students in Wisconsin public schools alone. 51.7% of Wisconsin 4th graders were not proficient in reading on the 2016-17 state Forward exam. Non-proficient percentages varied among student sub-groups, as shown below in red and black, and ranged from approximately 70-80% in the lower-performing districts to 20-35% in higher-performing districts.

65% of Wisconsin 4th graders were not proficient on the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress. Non- proficient percentages varied among student sub-groups, as shown below in red and black, and all shown sub-groups performed below the national averages for those sub-groups. Black students in Wisconsin were the 3rd lowest-performing African-American cohort in the country (besting only Iowa and Maine), and Wisconsin had the 5th largest black-white performance gap (tied with California and behind Washington, D.C., Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois).

Foundations of Reading Test.

Wisconsin posts lowest ever NAEP Reading score in 2017.

Long time Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Tony Evers is currently running for Governor.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending more than most, now nearly $20,000 per student.




97 (!) Emergency Elementary Teacher Licenses Granted to the Madison School District in 2016-2017



Wisconsin Reading Coalition (PDF), via a kind email:

As we reported recently, districts in Wisconsin, with the cooperation of DPI, have been making extensive use of emergency licenses to hire individuals who are not fully-licensed teachers. Click here to see how many emergency licenses were issued in your district in 2016-17 for elementary teachers, special education teachers, reading teachers, and reading specialists. You may be surprised at how high the numbers are. These are fields where state statute requires the individual to pass the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test to obtain a full initial license, and the emergency licenses provide an end-run around that requirement.

These individuals did not need to pass the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test, which would be required for full initial licensure *districts include individuals that are listed only once, but worked in multiple locations or positions

Information provided by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

New Online Certificate Program
Now there is an even more misguided opportunity for districts to hire unprepared teachers. The budget bill, set for an Assembly vote this Wednesday, followed by a vote in the Senate, requires DPI to issue an initial license to anyone who has completed the American Board online training program. That program, for career switchers with bachelor’s degrees, can be completed in less than one year and includes no student teaching (substitute or para-professional experience is accepted). We have no objection to alternate teacher preparation programs IF they actually prepare individuals to Wisconsin standards. In the area of reading, the way to determine that is for the American Board graduates to take the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test (FORT). If they cannot pass, they should not be granted anything more than an emergency license, which is what is available to individuals who complete Wisconsin-based traditional and alternate educator preparation programs but cannot pass the FORT. Wisconsin should not accept American Board’s own internal assessments as evidence that American Board certificate holders are prepared to teach reading to beginning and struggling students.

Action Requested
Please contact your legislators and tell them you do not want to weaken Wisconsin’s control over teacher quality by issuing initial licenses to American Board certificate holders who have not, at a minimum, passed the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test. Ask them to remove this provision from the budget bill. Find your legislators and contact information here.

How Should Wisconsin Address Its Teacher Shortages?
As pointed out in a recent fact sheet from the National Council on Teacher Quality, teacher shortages are particular to certain fields and geographic areas, and solutions must focus on finding and addressing the reasons for those shortages. This requires gathering and carefully analyzing the relevant data, including the quality of teacher preparation at various institutions, the pay scale in the hiring districts, and the working conditions in the district.

Related: WISCONSIN ELEMENTARY TEACHER CONTENT KNOWLEDGE EXAM RESULTS (FIRST TIME TAKERS).

Am emphasis on adult employment.




“Mr. Hayes’s solution is to improve education”



Joseph Tago:

Mr. Hayes’s solution is to improve education, specifically with a national apprenticeship program that would guide local public-private partnerships to train and prepare the workforce better. He knows the problem firsthand: “I’ve got thousands of job openings.”

Do you really?

“Thousands,” he replies. “A lot of this is because we’ve got growth in business on the aerospace side, but we’ll be adding thousands of jobs in the next three years, and right now I cannot hire mechanics who know how to put together jet engines. But it’s not just jet engines. We also make fan blades, other products, very sophisticated things. These are the high-value manufacturing jobs that America can actually support.”

A Pratt machinist earns $34 to $38 an hour, which with overtime works out to more than $100,000 a year—“pretty good money,” Mr. Hayes says. The positions can be filled by high-school graduates with “basic competencies in math and English” sufficient to, say, read a blueprint.

Mr. Hayes’s apprenticeship idea is about teaching such candidates the technical skills they need for the manufacturing jobs of the future—the kind that aren’t becoming obsolete due to automation and artificial intelligence. Labor arbitrage, like moving to Mexico, can only work so long, as rising wages in China show. But humans can’t compete with robots, which, as he says one of his Chinese managers put it, “never get sick, never ask for a raise, and they work 24/7.”

Labor mobility is another concern. People are less willing to move to where jobs are. UTC recently built a factory in Lansing, Mich., to make engine housings for a new type of titanium-aluminum fan blade and needs to bring on about 1,000 new people. The work pays $23 an hour on average, yet some workers in Huntington, who earned $15 on average, “won’t move two hours north to Lansing.”

Related: Madison’s long-term, disastrous reading results, and FOUNDATIONS OF READING RESULTS (WISCONSIN EDUCATION SCHOOLS), OR MTEL ARRIVES:

Wisconsin’s DPI provided the results to-date of the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading exam to School Information System, which posted an analysis. Be aware that the passing score from January, 2014 through August, 2014, was lower than the passing score in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Since September of 2014, the Wisconsin passing score has been the same as those states. SIS reports that the overall Wisconsin pass rate under the lower passing score was 92%, while the pass rate since August of 2014 has been 78%. This ranges from around 55% at one campus to 93% at another. The pass rate of 85% that SIS lists in its main document appears to include all the candidates who passed under the lower cut score.




Some alarming recommendations from the Wisconsin Leadership Group on School Staffing Challenges



Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via email:

On January 27th, the Leadership Group on School Staffing Challenges, convened by DPI Superintendent Tony Evers and Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators (WASDA) Executive Director Jon Bales, issued its Full Summary of Preliminary Licensing Recommendations. Together with earlier recommendations from the State Superintendent’s Working Group on School Staffing Issues and the Wisconsin Talent Development/Professional Standards Council Strategic Plan, this document identifies the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test (WIFoRT) as a roadblock to licensure for potential teachers.

The WIFoRT, written into State law in 2012, is supposed to be a roadblock to licensure for those who cannot pass it, as it objectively measures a candidate’s knowledge of the foundations of reading acquisition and effective pedagogical approaches. Given our stagnant reading scores since 1992, our low reading proficiency rates, the large gaps in proficiency between different subgroups of students, and our diminished national ranking in reading performance, the legislature agreed with the Read to Lead task force that something needed to be done. The WIFoRT was selected as one way to improve reading education for our children.

The WIFoRT, along with the requirement that student passage rates be reported annually, serves three purposes:

  1. Provides incoming college students and their families with comparative WIFoRT passage rates for all institutions of higher education
  2. Assures that new teachers are equipped to effectively teach reading (practicing teachers are not covered)
  3. Serves as a litmus test on the quality of teacher preparation in reading in our colleges of education

WIFoRT passage rates have not yet been published by DPI or the individual teacher preparation programs (though the test has been required since January of 2014), so our incoming college students lack this information in comparing programs.

The three reports referenced above indicate that inadequately prepared teachers are in fact not being licensed. While that is unfortunate for those aspiring teachers, and reduces number of the candidates in the hiring pool, it is also safeguarding our young and struggling readers by imposing some minimum quality assurances.

Based on the groups’ concerns over the WIFoRT failure rates, we can surmise that there is room for improvement in our teacher preparation programs when it comes to reading. The WIFoRT is a rigorous but not impossible test. A well-prepared college student should not have trouble passing. However, none of these reports addresses improving the standards for teacher preparation. Instead, they suggest lowering the cut score, changing state statutes, putting teachers in charge of classrooms without passing the exam, and allowing unspecified alternative ways to judge a teacher’s competency in foundational reading skills.

Once again, we see our DPI and its advisory groups prioritizing adults over children, and seeking to hide or ignore uncomfortable facts. This is unfair to Wisconsin children as well as potential teachers who deserve to be adequately prepared. If you expect better from our state educational agency, be sure to vote in the February 21st primary and the April general election for state superintendent.

Complete Wisconsin Reading Coalition Commentary “DPI’s Response to Reading Educator Preparation Problem is a Case Study of Evers’ Tenure: Obfuscate the Evidence Rather than Solve the Problem”:

It seems to be official: too many potential educators are failing the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test (WIFoRT). It’s been difficult to find this information. We have yet to see any of the statutorily-required annual reports listing passage rates for the WIFoRT, first given in 2014. Allowing itself 2-1/2 years to get results posted, DPI is still working on the 2012-13 year, and individual campuses are following suit. However, three separate DPI-convened groups in the past year have identified WIFoRT as a significant impediment to aspiring educators receiving initial teaching licenses. There must be a problem here. Some relevant quotes:

  • “Members asserted that otherwise qualified candidates struggle to pass the state-required reading exam, reducing the supply of potential educators in certain disciplines.”
  • The State Superintendent’s Working Group on School Staffing Issues, Final Report, June, 2016 “State statute 118.19 (14) (a) went into effect January 30, 2014 which requires special education teachers to pass the Foundations of Reading Test for Wisconsin. This additional requirement may cause some teacher candidates to take longer to complete preparation programs in order to post a passing score on the test.” Wisconsin Talent Development Framework/Professional Standards Council Strategic Plan Recommendations Draft, November, 2016
  • “Members also raised significant concerns about the Foundations of Reading Test (FoRT). While members acknowledged the importance of raising the knowledge and preparation level of all elementary and special education teachers in teaching reading, they also cited the law’s rigidity as a significant barrier to entry. Without a waiver policy or other flexibility, students who have been successfully trained and are sought by school districts are currently unable to achieve full licensure unless they pass this exam. This lack of flexibility is of increasing concern, particularly as recent law changes allow a teacher prepared out of state with only one year of teaching experience to become eligible for a teaching license in Wisconsin without passing the FoRT exam. . . . [T]here are candidates currently on emergency licensure who have completed every portion of their preparation except for successfully passing this exam.” Leadership Group on School Staffing Challenges, January, 2017

Let’s be clear: the WIFoRT is doing exactly what it is intended to do: assuring that new teachers in our elementary children’s classrooms, plus new special education teachers, reading teachers, and reading specialists, have a minimum of competency in the critical area of reading. State law requires these potential educators to pass the WIFoRT before obtaining an initial teaching license and becoming responsible for the reading education of our students. We wish that out-of-state teachers coming to Wisconsin with just one year of experience were held to the same standard.

The WIFoRT is identical to the MTEL 90 reading test pioneered in Massachusetts and now used in other states. It covers information about reading acquisition and effective pedagogical methods that are both fundamental and critical for teachers to be effective. If candidates have been properly prepared by their educator preparation programs, the WIFoRT should not be a difficult test to pass. The cut score for passing in Wisconsin is no higher than it is in other states.
So what is the appropriate response if large numbers of potential educators fail the WIFoRT one or more times? We would hope that our Department of Public Instruction, which sets standards for teacher preparation programs, would look to improving those standards in reading education so that more education students could realize their dream of becoming licensed and effective educators. The failing scores aren’t the problem, they are the symptom of the problem.
Sadly, that is not what has happened in Wisconsin under the tenure of Superintendent Tony Evers. In fact, a DPI process begun over three years ago to create new reading standards for educator preparation programs was never completed. And now we see these troubling recommendations from the three groups mentioned above:

  • Adjust the passing cut score on the WIFoRT
  • Recommend statute changes [presumably to eliminate or diminish the WIFoRT]
  • Delay taking the WIFoRT for a “significant time” while the “otherwise qualified” provisional educator practices teaching and implementing reading strategies as a classroom teacher
  • Create a new “Tier 1” license under which an aspiring educator could teach for a year without passing the WIFoRT
  • Allow Tier 1 educators to show competence in an alternative way, such as providing “multiple measures of improved student performance in reading,” gaining full licensure without ever passing the WIFoRT
  • Allow educators prepared out-of-state to be fully licensed if they have passed the edTPA
  • Allow educators prepared out-of-state without passing the edTPA to obtain a Tier 1 license for a year without passing the WIFoRT, then become fully licensed after a year of “successful teaching experience in Wisconsin based on multiple measures of success”

In other words, pass the test unless you can’t pass the test. What kind of safeguard is that for our children? Nowhere is there any mention of working on the standards in reading for teacher preparation programs. The emphasis once again is on making things convenient for the adults while ignoring the damage we will inflict on our students. How will we select which children are assigned to the classroom, reading intervention, or special education care of a new teacher who cannot pass a test in reading foundations? Wisconsin deserves better solutions.

Much more, here on relaxing Wisconsin’s thin K-12 teacher standards.




Relaxing Wisconsin’s Weak K-12 Teacher Licensing Requirements; MTEL?



Molly Beck:

A group of school officials, including state Superintendent Tony Evers, is asking lawmakers to address potential staffing shortages in Wisconsin schools by making the way teachers get licensed less complicated.

The Leadership Group on School Staffing Challenges, created by Evers and Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators executive director Jon Bales, released last week a number of proposals to address shortages, including reducing the number of licenses teachers must obtain to be in a classroom.

Under the group’s proposal, teachers would seek one license to teach prekindergarten through ninth grade and a second license to teach all grades, subjects and special education.

The group also proposes to consolidate related subject area licenses into single subject licenses. For example, teachers would be licensed in broad areas like science, social studies, music and English Language Arts instead of more specific areas of those subjects.

Wisconsin adopted Massachusett’s (MTEL) elementary reading content knowledge requirements (just one, not the others).

Much more on Wisconsin and MTEL, here.

National Council on Teacher Quality ranks preparation programs…. In 2014, no Wisconsin programs ranked in the top group.

Foundations of Reading Results (Wisconsin’s MTEL):

Wisconsin’s DPI provided the results to-date of the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading exam to School Information System, which posted an analysis. Be aware that the passing score from January, 2014 through August, 2014, was lower than the passing score in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Since September of 2014, the Wisconsin passing score has been the same as those states. SIS reports that the overall Wisconsin pass rate under the lower passing score was 92%, while the pass rate since August of 2014 has been 78%. This ranges from around 55% at one campus to 93% at another. The pass rate of 85% that SIS lists in its main document appears to include all the candidates who passed under the lower cut score.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s proposed changes: Clearinghouse Rule 16 PROPOSED ORDER OF THE STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION REVISING PERMANENT RULES

A kind reader’s comments:

to wit “Of particular concern is the provision of the new rule that would allow teachers who have not otherwise met their licensure requirements to teach under emergency licenses while “attempting to complete” the required licensure tests. For teachers who should have appropriate skills to teach reading, this undercuts the one significant achievement of the Read to Lead workgroup (thanks to Mark Seidenberg)—that is, requiring Wisconsin’s elementary school and all special education teachers to pass the Foundations of Reading test at the MTEL passing cut score level. The proposed DPI rule also appears to conflict with ESSA, which eliminated HQT in general, but updated IDEA to incorporate HQT provisions for special education teachers and does not permit emergency licensure. With reading achievement levels in Wisconsin at some of the lowest levels in the nation for the student subgroups that are most in need of qualified instruction, the dangers to students are self-evident”.

Related, from the Wisconsin Reading Coalition [PDF]:

Wisconsin 4th Grade Reading Results on the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

Main takeaways from the 2015 NAEP 4th grade reading exam:

  • Wisconsin scores have been statistically flat since 1992
  • 37% of our 4th graders score proficient or advanced
  • Our 4th graders rank 25th nationally: we have been in the middle of the pack since 2003
  • Our African-American students have the second lowest scores in the country (behind Michigan) and statistically underperform their national African-American peer sub-group
  • We have the second largest white/black score gap in the country (behind Washington, D.C.) Our Asian students statistically underperform their national Asian peer sub-group
  • Only our English Language Learners statistically outperform their national peer sub-group

Statements by our Department of Public Instruction that there was a “positive upward movement” in reading (10/28/15 News Release) and especially that our 4th graders “might be viewed” as ranking 13th in 4th grade reading (11/5/15 DPI-ConnectEd) are inaccurate and misleading.

Proficiency Rates and Performance Gaps
Overall, 8% of Wisconsin 4th graders are advanced, 29% are proficient, 34% are basic, and 29% are below basic. Nationally, 9% of students are advanced, 27% are proficient, 33% are basic, and 31% are below basic.

As is the case around the country, some student groups in Wisconsin perform better than others, though only English Language Learners outperform their national peer group. Several groups are contrasted below.

Subgroups can be broken down by race, gender, economic status, and disability status. 44% of white students are proficient or advanced, versus 35% of Asian students, 23% of American Indian students, 19% of Hispanic students and 11% of African-American students. 40% of girls are proficient or advanced, compared to 34% of boys. Among students who do not qualify for a free or reduced lunch, 50% are proficient or advanced, while the rate is only 19% for those who qualify. Students with disabilities continue to have the worst scores in Wisconsin. Only 13% of them are proficient or advanced, and a full 68% are below basic, indicating that they do not have the skills necessary to navigate print in school or daily life. It is important to remember that this group does not include students with severe cognitive disabilities.

When looking at gaps between sub-groups, keep in mind that a difference of 10 points on The NAEP equals approximately one grade level in performance. Average scores for Wisconsin sub-groups range from 236 (not eligible for free/reduced lunch) to 231 (white), 228 (students without disabilities), 226 (females), 225 (non-English Language Learners), 222 (Asian), 220 (males), 209 (Hispanic), 207 (American Indian or eligible for free/reduced lunch), 198 (English Language Learners), 193 (African-American), and 188 (students with disabilities). There is a gap of almost three grade levels between white and black 4th graders, and four grade levels between 4th graders with and without disabilities.

Scores Viewed Over Time
The graph below shows NAEP raw scores over time. Wisconsin’s 4th grade average score in 2015 is 223, which is statistically unchanged from 2013 and 1992, and is statistically the same as the current national score (221). The national score, as well as scores in Massachusetts, Florida, Washington, D.C., and other jurisdictions, have seen statistically significant increases since 1992.

Robust clinical and brain research in reading has provided a roadmap to more effective teacher preparation and student instruction, but Wisconsin has not embraced this pathway with the same conviction and consistency as many other states. Where change has been most completely implemented, such as Massachusetts and Florida, the lowest students benefitted the most, but the higher students also made substantial gains. It is important that we come to grips with the fact that whatever is holding back reading achievement in Wisconsin is holding it back for everyone, not just poor or minority students. Disadvantaged students suffer more, but everyone is suffering, and the more carefully we look at the data, the more obvious that becomes.

Performance of Wisconsin Sub-Groups Compared to their Peers in Other Jurisdictions
10 points difference on a NAEP score equals approximately one grade level. Comparing Wisconsin sub-groups to their highest performing peers around the country gives us an indication of the potential for better outcomes. White students in Wisconsin (score 231) are approximately three years behind white students in Washington D.C. (score 260), and a year behind white students in Massachusetts (score 242). African-American students in Wisconsin (193) are more than three years behind African-American students in Department of Defense schools (228), and two years behind their peers in Arizona and Massachusetts (217). They are approximately one year behind their peers in Louisiana (204) and Mississippi (202). Hispanic students in Wisconsin (209) are approximately two years behind their peers in Department of Defense schools (228) and 1-1/2 years behind their peers in Florida (224). Wisconsin students who qualify for free or reduced lunch (207) score approximately 1-1/2 years behind similar students in Florida and Massachusetts (220). Wisconsin students who do not qualify for free and reduced lunch (236) are the highest ranking group in our state, but their peers in Washington D.C. (248) and Massachusetts (247) score approximately a grade level higher.

State Ranking Over Time
Wisconsin 4th graders rank 25th out of 52 jurisdictions that took the 2015 NAEP exam. In the past decade, our national ranking has seen some bumps up or down (we were 31st in 2013), but the overall trend since 1998 is a decline in Wisconsin’s national ranking (we were 3rd in 1994). Our change in national ranking is entirely due to statistically significant changes in scores in other jurisdictions. As noted above, Wisconsin’s scores have been flat since 1992.

The Positive Effect of Demographics
Compared to many other jurisdictions, Wisconsin has proportionately fewer students in the lower performing sub-groups (students of color, low-income students, etc.). This demographic reality allows our state to have a higher average score than another state with a greater proportion of students in the lower performing sub-groups, even if all or most of that state’s subgroups outperform their sub-group peers in Wisconsin. If we readjusted the NAEP scores to balance demographics between jurisdictions, Wisconsin would rank lower than 25th in the nation. When we did this demographic equalization analysis in 2009, Wisconsin dropped from 30th place to 43rd place nationally.

Applying Standard Statistical Analysis to DPI’s Claims
In its official news release on the NAEP scores on October 28, 2015, DPI accurately stated that Wisconsin results were “steady.” After more than a decade of “steady” scores, one could argue that “flat” or “stagnant” would be more descriptive terms. However, we cannot quibble with “steady.” We do take issue with the subtitle “Positive movement in reading,” and the statement that “There was a positive upward movement at both grade levels in reading.” In fact, the DPI release acknowledges in the very next sentence, “Grade level scores for state students in both mathematics and reading were considered statistically the same as state scores on the 2013 NAEP.” The NAEP website points out that Wisconsin’s 4th grade reading score was also statistically the same as the state score on the 2003 NAEP, and this year’s actual score is lower than in 1992. It is misleading to say that there has been positive upward movement in 4th grade reading. (emphasis added).

Regarding our 4th grade ranking of 25th in the nation, DPI’s ConnectEd newsletter makes the optimistic, but unsupportable, claim that “When analyzed for statistical significance, the state’s ranking might be viewed as even higher: “tied” for . . . 13th in fourth grade reading.”

Wisconsin is in a group of 16 jurisdictions whose scores (218-224) are statistically the same as the national average (221). 22 jurisdictions have scores (224-235) statistically above the national average, and 14 have scores (207-218) statistically below the national average. Scoring third place in that middle group of states is how NAEP assigned Wisconsin a 25th ranking.

When we use Wisconsin as the focal jurisdiction, 12 jurisdictions have scores (227-235) statistically higher than ours (223), 23 jurisdictions have scores (220-227) that are statistically the same, and 16 have scores (207-219) that are statistically lower. This is NOT the same as saying we rank 13th.

To assume we are doing as well as the state in 13th place is a combination of the probability that we are better than our score, and they are worse than theirs: that we had very bad luck on the NAEP administration, and that other state had very good luck. If we took the test again, there is a small probability, less than 3%, that our score would rise and theirs would fall, and we would meet in the middle, tied for 19th, not 13th, place. The probability that the other state would continue to perform just as well and we would score enough better to move up into a tie for 13th place is infinitesimal: a tiny fraction of a percentage. Not only is that highly unlikely, it is no more true than saying we could be viewed as tied with the jurisdiction at the bottom of our group, ranking 36th.

Furthermore, this assertion requires us to misuse not only this year’s data, but the data from past years which showed us at more or less the same place in the rankings. When you look at all the NAEP data across time and see how consistent the results are, the likelihood we are actually much better than our current rank shrinks to nearly nothing. It would require that not only were we incredibly unlucky in the 2015 administration, but we have been incredibly unlucky in every administration for the past decade. The likelihood of such an occurrence would be in the neighborhood of one in a billion billion.

Until now, DPI has never stated a reason for our mediocre NAEP performance. They have always declined to speculate. And now, of all the reasons they might consider to explain why our young children read so poorly and are falling further behind students in other states, they suggest it may just be bad luck. Whether they really believe that, or are tossing it out as a distraction from the actual facts is not entirely clear. Either way, it is a disappointing reaction from the agency that jealously guards its authority to guide education in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Reading Coalition PDF summary.




Foundations of Reading Results (Wisconsin Education Schools), or MTEL arrives



Wisconsin Reading Coalition Comments:

Wisconsin’s DPI provided the results to-date of the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading exam to School Information System, which posted an analysis. Be aware that the passing score from January, 2014 through August, 2014, was lower than the passing score in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Since September of 2014, the Wisconsin passing score has been the same as those states. SIS reports that the overall Wisconsin pass rate under the lower passing score was 92%, while the pass rate since August of 2014 has been 78%. This ranges from around 55% at one campus to 93% at another. The pass rate of 85% that SIS lists in its main document appears to include all the candidates who passed under the lower cut score.

Foundations of Reading Results 9/2014 to 8/2015 (Wisconsin Education Schools)

Additional documents:

Reading results to date (.docx and .xls)

January 2014 to August 2014 (.docx and .xls)

September 2014 to August 2015 (.docx and .xls)

To Date (.docx and .xls)

Notes and links:

MTEL arrives in Wisconsin.

A Capitol Conversation.

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.