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Legislative Update


Public hearing next week on dyslexia & American Indian studies bills

by | Feb 7, 2020 | Legislative Update Blog, State Issue | 0 comments

The Assembly Committee on Education will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, February 12 at 9:46 a.m. in Room 417 North, State Capitol. The committee, chaired by state Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), is scheduled to take public testimony on several bills relating to American Indian studies and reading instruction/dyslexia. 

The American Indian studies bills come from recommendations of the Joint Legislative Council’s Special Committee on State-Tribal Relations. These bills would require the DPI to both adopt model academic standards for American Indian studies and provide school boards with more guidance on the subject, and would increase current requirements on school boards to mandate more specific and more frequent instruction on American Indian studies in specific grade bands.

The reading instruction/dyslexia bills scheduled to be heard include mandates that school boards adopt dyslexia plans and that CESAs hire dyslexia specialists. Another bill to be heard would mandate specific components be added to the reading readiness assessments required under current law.  A bill (Assembly Bill 601) that would impose new dyslexia-related training mandates for school personnel has not been included on the notice for this hearing.

The committee will hear the following bills:

Assembly Bill 105 Relating to: model academic standards for American Indian studies.

This bill requires the state superintendent in consultation with the Wisconsin Indian Education Association, Inc. to develop model academic standards for American Indian studies. These standards must address certain historical and contemporary information that pupils are expected to know. At a minimum, this information must include significant events, tribal sovereignty, and culture relating to the federally recognized tribes and bands located in Wisconsin.

Assembly Bill 106 Relating to: informational materials related to a school board’s obligation to provide instruction on American Indians.

Current law requires that a school board provide pupils with the following:
 
1. An instructional program that is designed to give pupils at all grade levels an understanding of human relations, particularly with regard to American Indians, Black Americans, and Hispanics.
2. As part of the social studies curriculum, instruction in the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of the federally recognized American Indian tribes and bands located in Wisconsin at least twice in the elementary grades and at least once in the high school grades.
 
The bill requires that the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) develop informational materials related to the requirements described above for distribution to school boards annually. The materials must be developed and posted on DPI’s website by September 1 of the school year beginning after the bill takes effect. DPI must update the materials in response to any changes to a school board’s obligation to provide instruction related to American Indians. The bill also requires that school boards annually provide the informational materials to school board members, school district administrators, certain individuals responsible for curriculum or staff development, principals, and social studies teachers.

Assembly Bill 107 Relating to: the American Indian studies requirement for teacher licensure.

Subject to several exceptions, current law generally prohibits the state superintendent of public instruction from issuing a teaching license to a person unless that person has received instruction in minority group relations, including instruction in the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of the federally recognized American Indian tribes and bands located in Wisconsin. The bill modifies the instructional requirement, providing that a teacher license applicant must receive instruction in the culture, tribal sovereignty, and contemporary and historical significant events of the federally recognized American Indian tribes and bands located in Wisconsin.

Assembly Bill 109 Relating to: required instruction in American Indian studies in the elementary and high school grades.

Current law provides a list of standards by which school boards must abide, including standards relating to curriculum and instruction. The list of standards includes a requirement that each school board provide, as part of its social studies curriculum, instruction in the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of the federally recognized American Indian tribes and bands located in Wisconsin at least twice in the elementary grades and at least once in the high school grades.
 
Under the bill, beginning on September 1, 2020, each school board must, as part of its social studies curriculum, provide instruction in the culture, tribal sovereignty, and contemporary and historical significant events of the federally recognized American Indian tribes and bands located in Wisconsin at least four times in the elementary grades. The bill specifically requires that the instruction be provided at least once in grades kindergarten to 2, at least once in grades 3 to 5, and at least twice in grades 6 to 8. The bill also requires that such instruction be provided as part of the high school curriculum at least once in each of the high school grades, including at least once as part of the high school social studies curriculum.
 

Assembly Bill 603 Relating to: publishing Foundations of Reading test scores.

This bill requires the Department of Public Instruction to annually publish Foundations of Reading test scores DPI receives from the entity that administers the test.
 
Assembly Bill 604 Relating to: programs to identify and address pupils with dyslexia in public schools.

This bill requires a school board to develop or adopt a program to identify and address pupils with dyslexia.

Assembly Bill 632 Relating to: assessments to evaluate reading readiness.

Under current law, each school board and operator of an independent charter school must annually assess the reading readiness of pupils in four-year-old kindergarten through second grade using a locally selected assessment. Current law requires that the assessment selected by the school district or operator of the independent charter school must evaluate whether a pupil possesses phonemic awareness and letter sound knowledge.
 
Under the bill, beginning in the 2020-21 school year, each school board and operator of an independent charter school must assess pupils in four-year-old kindergarten through second grade for reading readiness and reading difficulties using an assessment selected by the school board or operator of the independent charter school and a voluntary questionnaire about reading difficulties in a pupil’s family history. The bill further specifies that the assessment selected by the school board or operator of the independent charter school must evaluate whether a pupil possesses age-appropriate skills in phonological and phonemic awareness, rapid automatized naming, letter-word reading, and picture-naming vocabulary.
 
Assembly Bill 635 Relating to: requiring each cooperative educational service agency to employ a dyslexia specialist.

Beginning in the 2020-21 school year, this bill requires the board of control of each cooperative educational service agency to employ a dyslexia specialist. The bill defines a dyslexia specialist as an individual who meets specific criteria, including that the individual has at least five years experience in screening, identifying, and treating dyslexia and related conditions and that the individual has received advanced training in various topics related to dyslexia and related conditions.

Note: The public hearing will begin immediately following the conclusion of the Executive Session, which begins at 9:45 a.m.  The Committee will first receive testimony on AB 105, AB 106, AB 107, and AB 109 until 1pm. The Committee will then hear testimony on AB 603, AB 604, AB 632, and AB 635 from 1pm-5pm.  

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