Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin changed the way reading is taught in the state on Wednesday by signing a measure into law.
The Republican-authored bill prioritises phonics—the relationship between sounds and letters—over memorization in an effort to raise reading proficiency results. Additionally, it mandates more frequent reading assessments and hires reading tutors to assist struggling pupils.
“We have to ensure our kids have the reading and literacy tools and skills to be successful both in and out of the classroom,” Evers said in a statement. “This bill, modeled after initiatives that have been successful in other states and fine-tuned with significant changes throughout the legislative process, is a step in the right direction.”
Evers, a Democrat, and the state Department of Public Instruction at first opposed the bill because it mandated that third-graders who received poor grades in reading repeat those classes. Low-scoring students are now placed in a remedial programme with summer reading requirements.
The plan, which was developed by the agency with months of collaboration with Republican lawmakers in the GOP-controlled Legislature, was approved last month with some bipartisan backing.
Before becoming governor, Evers served as the state superintendent. On Wednesday, he urged the Legislature to approve additional investments in public education.
A 20-year low in reading proficiency was reached in 2022 in Wisconsin, where just roughly a third of fourth graders, according to results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
According to the bill Evers signed into law, students in kindergarten through third grade must now take three reading assessments each year rather than just one. These assessments will be used to identify challenging kids more quickly and provide them with further support.
The programme is applicable to both public and private schools in Wisconsin that receive financing via school choice voucher programmes.