What’s wrong with “The Riches of Reading”?

Richards Elementary | An Exceptional Place to Learn | Whitefish Bay, WI  53211

Last week the WI DPI issued an opinion piece about reading. It stated in part:

To create students who stay curious and inquisitive throughout their lives – active participants in democracy, critical consumers of information, creative contributors to our communities – we need to ensure our students are literate.  

We do this by centering authentic family engagement rather than focusing on parental notification concerning assessment results. Rich family engagement revolves around communication, but only if it is a collaborative process, not a one-way street. We do this by ensuring our educators have the support they need to engage families, interpret assessments, and implement meaningful instruction and interventions.

And we start by remembering that families are a child’s first literacy teacher, which also makes them every educator’s most important partner when they can be authentically engaged.

The DPI called for the creation of a Literary Task Force.

You can read the entire opinion piece here.

Some weren’t buying the DPI’s message. From the group Decoding Dyslexia Wisconsin:

The WI DPI writes about “authentic family engagement” while insulting the families who are already doing all of the things listed in this article. It’s insulting to blame parents for not reading enough to their students. We DO need to focus on what we know works and that is early evidence-based interventions to get kids on the path to becoming proficient readers. The time for more committees and empty talk is over.

Senator Kathy Bernier (R – Chippewa Falls) issued a news release:

“When 64% of Wisconsin 4th graders can’t even read at grade level, remarks like these show just how out-of-touch these Madison bureaucrats really are. Too many parents aren’t told their child is struggling to read until the 3rd grade Forward Exam when their child has already fallen behind and lost self- confidence. Parents don’t want the Department’s wishful thinking about ‘authentic family engagement’ or endless meetings they don’t have time to attend. They need to be informed years earlier that their child is struggling and they need a plan to get their child back on track.

 “It’s ironic and sad that the very people who got us into this mess are too busy writing word salad essays and planning useless meetings, that they’re not hearing the thousands of parents and educators across this state crying out for actual meaningful engagement to turn around Wisconsin’s literacy crisis.”

Sen. Bernier and Decoding Dyslexia are urging Gov. Evers to sign into law SB 454 that has been approved by the Legislature. This bill requires school boards and independent charter schools to assess the early literacy skill of pupils in four-year-old-kindergarten to second grade using various screening assessments and to create a personal reading plan for each pupil in five-year-old kindergarten to second grade who is identified as at-risk based on a universal screening assessment or a level 1 screening assessment. Under the bill, “at-risk” means the pupil scored below the 25th percentile on an applicable
screening assessment.

11/04 UPDATE

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