Wisconsin's "Read to Lead" Task Force convened for its second meeting last month to address teacher training and reading interventions. Here's an excellent debrief (via School Information System) from Wisconsin Reading Coalition on the discussion. And here are my notes from the gallery:
This meaty agenda was well-suited for a substantive discussion informed by the expertise and depth of experience of the panel and the meeting's invited guests. (And allowing the meeting to run somewhat over its allotted time, and agreeing to continue the agenda topic of reading interventions onto the next meeting rather than giving it short shrift, were good on-the-spot calls.)
While it can't reasonably be expected that a problem as complex and (if judged by prior efforts) insoluble as statewide reading achievement can be covered comprehensively through going-round-the-table soundbites in a limited timeframe, I think the process could benefit from more systematic fact-finding (and fact-checking), so that discussions can be grounded in a common baseline of background knowledge, and relevant information isn't omitted in the wending flow of discussion. It would have been informative, for example, to note the endeavors of the National Council for Teacher Quality's new initiative to review the quality of the nation's education schools, and the decisions of the UW system and the Wisconsin Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (representing all public and private education schools in Wisconsin) not to participate in the NCTQ study; or to note the lack of compliance (as shown in a research study undertaken for a recent Marquette University dissertation) by a significant number of school districts with state statute 118.015, which requires each school district to employ a certified reading specialist to develop and coordinate a comprehensive K-12 reading curriculum; or to note that, although there is new momentum to promote RtI (Response to Intervention) on a statewide basis, Wisconsin remains one of only a handful of states that still uses the intelligence-achievement discrepancy model to identify specific learning disabilities, and that the full phase-in of RtI, to bring Wisconsin into alignment with federal rules, will not be completed until 2014.
I also hope that the panel won't be led into the temptation to portray consensus for the sake of appearance of consensus, or to paper over the many genuine areas of fundamental disagreement on the causes and effects of and cures for our problems with reading achievement.
At this writing, the third meeting of the Read to Lead Task Force will have taken place today in Onalaska. Although open to the public, the meeting was not broadcast by Wisconsin Eye, and it's a disappointment that other arrangements were not made to make the proceedings accessible to those unable to travel to the meeting site to observe the meeting in real space and real time. The complex task before the panel can only be helped by engaging as many stakeholders as possible to illuminate the scope and magnitude of the current state of reading instruction and achievement and to identify workable pathways to reverse the decline. In other words, we're all called upon to be leaders for our readers.