DDWI Statement on DPI Emergency Ruling

Decoding Dyslexia Wisconsin

Statement on DPI Emergency Ruling Re: WIFoRT Foundations of Reading Test

July 1st 2017

Decoding Dyslexia is a grassroots movement created by families, teachers, and professionals who are concerned with the limited access to appropriate educational approaches given with fidelity for struggling readers, other language-based disabilities, and dyslexia in our public schools. We have chapters in 50 states and internationally. Our goals are to raise awareness, empower families to support their children, and inform legislators about best practices to identify, educate and support students struggling with reading in Wisconsin. We support families of struggling readers, share resources, and strategies which are helpful. Every child must learn to read so they can reach their full potential!

Decoding Dyslexia understands the long-term effects on children when teachers have not learned the subskills of reading. Without the assistance of extremely knowledgeable educators who understand the five essential components of reading children will not effectively learn strategies, they will use every day for their entire life. Act 166/ The Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test is the only legislation in effect in Wisconsin that targets very effective basics of reading instruction rooted in Reading Science that can help ALL students.  The NAEP Nations Assessment of Educational Progress standardized assessment data for Wisconsin demonstrates the need for improvement in Reading in Wisconsin.

Reading failure in this country is a hundred years in the making. Long ago, before teaching subject content, teachers taught phonology (the sound structure of the language), orthography (the writing system of letters and spelling conventions), cursive handwriting, grammar, and the art of sentence building — because these were the necessary prerequisites. This kind of skill-building gradually fell out of favor and is now missing in most early education classrooms. This must change.

We ask you to restore to our local school systems the structured literacy practices that will ensure all students learn to read proficiently. Meaningful change is within our reach if we take an active role in bringing critical, foundational teaching methods back to classrooms everywhere.

To help move forward we would like to suggest:

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction should allow for greater transparency in reporting the passage rates of new teachers who take this exam rather than deconstruct the Foundations of Reading basics. Governor Walker’s Read to Lead Taskforce consisting of esteemed Professionals had collaborated over a number of years to make these recommendations. A great solution could be to add passage rates on every school district report card.

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction could collaborate with Universities in Wisconsin to create and implement a universal class which can support learning the WIFoRT Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test material for our new teachers. The Foundations of Reading Test WI FoRT ensures a standard of teacher quality; rather than reduce teacher quality why not support our teachers by providing classes and ample time to learn, study, work with and become accustomed to Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Vocabulary, Comprehension, and Fluency approaches? We love our teachers, they have big challenges in this well-respected profession let’s support them! Wisconsin can be a leader in Literacy!

Thank you, most sincerely,

Decoding Dyslexia Wisconsin