Wisconsin bill changing how reading is taught heads to governor

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A proposal overhauling how reading is taught in Wisconsin elementary schools is headed to Gov. Tony Evers for his consideration after the Senate passed the measure with bipartisan support on Wednesday.

The Republican-authored bill is designed to increase reading scores by requiring more frequent tests of students, coaching and a curriculum that emphasizes phonics, the relationship between sounds and letters, over memorization.

Evers, a former state education secretary, has not said whether he will sign the measure. The state Department of Public Instruction initially opposed the bill when it required low-scoring third-graders to repeat reading classes, but came to support it after those provisions were removed.

The department worked with Republicans who control the Legislature on the proposal.

Three Senate Democrats joined with Republicans in voting for the bill Wednesday, which sent it to the governor. The Assembly passed it on a bipartisan vote last week.

A nationwide push to embrace similar methods has gained ground as lawmakers look to address learning losses attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. Wisconsin’s bill is modeled after literacy laws in Mississippi, sometimes referred to as the “Mississippi miracle,” because the changes led to dramatic improvements in the state’s reading scores over the past decade.