MADISON — Six bills, including Assembly Bill 321, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 20, have been signed by Gov. Evers as of July 19 as a way to help improve reading and literacy outcomes for K-12 students.
The bill, relating to literacy, was drafted in coordination with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and makes several comprehensive updates to literacy instruction for Wisconsin.
“We have to ensure our kids have the reading and literacy tools and skills to be successful both in and out of the classroom. 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,” said Gov. Evers.
“But at the end of the day, the bottom line for me is that reading curriculum is only one small part of the equation to ensuring our kids are prepared for success—we know that kids who are hungry, in crisis, or experiencing other challenges at home might have trouble focusing in class or on their studies, be distracted or disengaged at school, and have a hard time completing their coursework.
“So, if we want to improve outcomes for kids in our classrooms across the board, this bill is only one small part of the work we have to do—we must continue making meaningful investments in our kids and our schools, bolster our education workforce to help keep class sizes small, and expand access to mental health services and healthy meals in our schools so our kids can bring their full and best selves to our classrooms.”
About Assembly Bill 321, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 20
Assembly Bill 321, now called 2023 Wisconsin Act 20, will serve Wisconsin through education as it:
- Creates an Office of Literacy to be known as the Wisconsin Reading Center at DPI
- Creates a literacy coaching program through which the Office of Literacy would assign 64 contracted literacy coaches to traditional public schools, independent charter schools and private schools participating in the choice program to provide support to administrators, school-based literacy coaches, principals and teachers
- Prohibits the use of instruction or materials that contain the “three-cueing” method of literacy instruction, defined as any model that teaches a student to read based on meaning, structure and syntax, and visual cues or memory, beginning in the 2024-25 school years
- Creates the Council on Early Literacy Curricula, which will include nine members nominated by the state superintendent, speaker of the Assembly, and the senate majority leader and will meet annually to make recommendations to DPI that are then submitted to the Joint Committee on Finance for passive review
- Creates grants to cover 50% of the costs of purchasing approved curriculum and instructional materials
- Increases the frequency of screening and diagnostic reading assessments and prescribes specific interventions, including the creation of personal literacy plans that identify specific skill deficiencies, provide goals and benchmarks of progress, and describe additional services
- Requires changes in how educators are prepared to teach reading, including prohibiting the state superintendent from approving a teacher preparatory program unless the program prepares a teacher to teach using science-based early literacy instruction and does not incorporate three-cueing and requiring certain educators to take the Lexia Learning Systems LLC, Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) or another program endorsed by the Center for Effective Reading Instruction and that is offered by the Leadership in Literacy Institute or a provider that meets specified criteria
About Assembly Bill 322, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 21:
Ratifies the collective bargaining agreement for State Patrol troopers and inspectors in the public safety employees bargaining unit for fiscal years 2021-22 and 2022-23, as negotiated by the Division of Personnel Management at the Wisconsin Department of Administration and the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association, providing employees in this bargaining unit who meet a satisfactory performance rating a two percent general wage adjustment, effective Jan. 2, 2022, and an additional 4.7% general wage adjustment, effective Jan. 1, 2023.
About Assembly Bill 323, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 22:
Ratifies the collective bargaining agreement for attorneys working in the classified service for state agencies in the state attorneys bargaining unit for fiscal year 2022-23, as negotiated between the Division of Personnel Management at the Wisconsin Department of Administration and the Wisconsin State Attorneys Association, providing employees in this bargaining unit who meet a satisfactory performance rating a 4.7% general wage adjustment, effective Jan. 1, 2023.
About Assembly Bill 324, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 23:
Ratifies the collective bargaining agreement for UW-Madison employees in the building trades crafts collective bargaining unit for fiscal year 2022-23, as negotiated by UW-Madison and the Wisconsin State Building Trades Negotiating Committee, providing a 4.7% general wage adjustment for employees in this bargaining unit, effective Jan. 1, 2023.
About Assembly Bill 325, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 24:
Ratifies the collective bargaining agreement for UW System employees in the building trades crafts collective bargaining unit for fiscal year 2022-23, as negotiated by the UW Board of Regents and the Wisconsin State Building Trades Negotiating Committee, providing a 4.7% general wage adjustment for employees in this bargaining unit, effective Jan. 1, 2023.
About Assembly Bill 326, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 25:
Ratifies the collective bargaining agreement for State of Wisconsin employees in the building trades crafts collective bargaining unit for fiscal year 2022-23, as negotiated by the state of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin State Building Trades Negotiating Committee, providing a 4.7% general wage adjustment for employees in this bargaining unit, effective Jan. 1, 2023.
2023-25 biennial budget impact on education
The 2023-25 biennial budget includes $50 million in the Joint Committee on Finance’s supplemental appropriation for efforts to improve reading and literacy outcomes for K-12 students, including those included in the 2023 Wisconsin Act 20.
Additional investments include providing an overall increase of nearly $1.2 billion in spendable authority for public school districts.
According to the release, this increase in the budget will be more than ten times larger than the increase in spendable authority for public school districts in the 2021-23 biennium budget.
Along with this, the governor’s vetoes also ensure school districts have predictable, long-term revenue limit spending authority increases to help meet rising costs for the foreseeable future.
According to the release, this budget increases the level of state support from 67.8% in the fiscal year 2022-23 to an estimated 68.8% in the fiscal year 2023-24 and 69.4% in the fiscal year 2024-25.
This will mark the highest levels of state support for school districts since the calculation was initiated in the fiscal year 1996-97 under the state’s former “two-thirds” funding goal.
Furthermore, this increase is also generated by a $325 per pupil increase in revenue limits in each fiscal year, in addition to an increase in the low revenue ceiling from $10,000 to $11,000 per pupil in the first year of the biennium.
Per the release, this is also the largest increase in statewide revenue limit authority since revenue limits were first imposed on K-12 schools in 1993-94, and it is permanent and base-building.
“The potential to take the burden off community members when it comes to school funding, as it alleviates the need for districts to seek operating referenda,” says the release from Gov. Evers’ office.
- Provides $97 million GPR over the biennium to achieve a special education reimbursement rate of 33.3% each year, which is the highest reimbursement rate the state has seen in over 20 years;
- Invests $4.6 million GPR over the biennium for high-cost special education aid, increasing the reimbursement rate of these programs from its current 39.5% to 50% by the end of the biennium. This aid helps school districts pay a portion of their eligible special education costs for pupils with specific and elevated educational needs; and
- Provides $30 million to continue support for school-based mental health services modeled on the governor’s successful “Get Kids Ahead” Initiative.
Gov. Evers additionally signed several other bills providing general wage increases for certain state of Wisconsin employees, including state attorneys, troopers and inspectors in the Wisconsin State Patrol, University of Wisconsin (UW) System employees, and those in the building trades.
“From public safety professionals to our UW System, state employees play a critically important role in keeping communities safe, providing services to Wisconsinites in every corner of the state, including educating and training the next generation,” said Gov. Evers. “These pay increases are critically important and well-deserved for state workers, and I am glad to be signing these bills today to help support, retain, and bolster our workforce.”
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