New state reading initiatives in Midwest aim to identify, help struggling students

Stateline Midwest ~ June 2012

Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin are among the states this year where lawmakers have focused education-reform efforts on improving early-learning literacy.

In Iowa, a bill signed into law in May (SF 2284) will require school districts to assess the kindergarten readiness of every 4-year-old. Children in kindergarten through third grade will then be tested at the beginning of each school year; those falling behind must be offered intensive remedial reading instruction. The parents of a student who remains deficient after the third grade will then have a choice: Have the child repeat the grade, or enroll him or her in an intensive summer reading program.

According to The Cleveland Plain Dealer, $13 million has been set aside in Ohio’s mid-term budget to launch a Third Grade Reading Guarantee program. The initiative includes more testing and instructional interventions; in addition, certain struggling students will be held back from advancing to the fourth grade.

Wisconsin’s SB 461, which became law in April, allocates funding for a universal kindergarten screener, requires teachers to pass a more rigorous licensure test, and institutes a new system for tracking the performance of instructors from different teacher-preparatory programs.