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WI Act 20 FAQ

The information below is designed to address ongoing questions related to 2023 Act 20 and its implementation. Please send questions or concerns about this page or Act 20 to DPI staff by emailing early.reading@dpi.wi.gov.

Last updated: 3/19/2024

Curriculum and Instruction (updated March 19, 2024)

What type of early literacy instruction and intervention do schools need to provide?

Act 20 states that all Wisconsin schools are required to provide science-based early literacy instruction in both universal and intervention settings. Science-based early literacy instruction is defined as the following.

Instruction that is systematic and explicit and consists of all the following:

  • Phonological awareness
  • Phonemic awareness
  • Phonics
  • Building background knowledge
  • Oral language development
  • Vocabulary building
  • Instruction in writing
  • Instruction in comprehension
  • Reading fluency

Phonics is defined as the study of the relationships between sounds and words; this includes alphabetic principle, decoding, orthographic knowledge, encoding, and fluency.

Note that the Wisconsin Standards for ELA 2020 defines fluency as being comprised of accuracy, automaticity, and prosody.

What type of early literacy instruction and intervention is prohibited?

Act 20 states that three-cueing instruction and curricula are prohibited in grades K through 3. Three-cueing instruction is defined as, “...any model, including the model referred to as meaning, structure, and visual cues, or MSV, of teaching a pupil to read based on meaning, structure and syntax, and visual cues or memory.” This prohibition applies when the instructional goal is for the learner to solve unknown words. 

Does this mean that schools are prohibited from providing any instruction in sight words or context clues?

The purpose of delivering instruction in reading foundational skills is to build automaticity in making meaning of written text. When prompting a learner for word-solving, educators should first and foremost be prompting for phonics. The term sight word refers to any word that is read with automaticity (Ehri 2005, 167-188). Therefore, it is reasonable to say that a goal of reading instruction is for the majority of words to become sight words.

The WI DPI recognizes that using context clues is an evidence-based instructional approach when the goal is to support comprehension and building vocabulary (Capin et al., 2020; Foorman et al., 2016; Kuhn & Stahl, 1998; Nash & Snowling, 2010). Therefore, instruction in using context clues is allowable and appropriate when the learning goal is related to vocabulary and comprehension skill building.

Foundational skills are not an end in and of themselves; rather, they are necessary and important components of an effective, comprehensive reading program designed to develop proficient readers with the capacity to comprehend texts across a range of types and disciplines.

How does an LEA determine if a reading curriculum, intervention, or supplementary instructional resources does not violate the the three-cueing prohibition?

If an LEA can answer yes to both of the following critical questions, then the curriculum, intervention, or supplementary instructional resource does not violate the three-cueing prohibition and an LEA would be allowed to purchase and implement the curriculum, intervention, or supplementary instructional resource as appropriate.

  1. Does the curriculum, intervention, or supplementary instructional resource follow a specific scope and sequence?
  2. Does the curriculum, intervention, or supplementary instructional resource require the learner to apply their knowledge of phonics to solve an unknown word?

If an LEA answers no to either of the above questions, then the purchase and implementation of the curriculum, intervention, or supplementary instructional resource is not allowed and may not be supported with state or federal funds (2 CFR 200.404(b).)

Are there any exceptions to the science-based early literacy instruction requirements?

There are certain students for whom phonological and phonemic awareness focused literacy instruction is either not possible or appropriate. Appropriate instruction in reading should be clearly articulated in the individual education programs (IEPs) or 504 plans of such students and those instructional plans must be followed. Teachers of record should work closely with special education teachers to plan and deliver appropriate instruction.

For other students, including English learners with a different phonetic system in their first language, accommodations may need to be made. Appropriate instruction in reading should be clearly articulated in the individualized language plans of such students and those instructional plans must be followed. Teachers of record should work closely with Title III or English as a second language teachers to plan and deliver appropriate instruction.

Will schools be required to adopt and implement early literacy curricula from the list generated by the early literacy curriculum council?

No. School boards retain the independent authority to select the early literacy instructional materials they will adopt and implement. Those instructional materials are required to meet the definition of “science-based early literacy instruction” found in Act 20.

Does Act 20 require schools to change their curriculum?

Act 20 does not require schools to change their curriculum. Instead, 2023 Wisconsin Act 20 (Act 20) requires specific criteria related to literacy curriculum. Curriculum, encompassing instructional materials, activities, and assessments, aims to support students in reaching proficiency in the Wisconsin Standards for English Language Arts (2020).

To assist districts in navigating the curriculum requirements, the WI Act 20 Curriculum Crosswalk Toolkit (WI DPI, 2024) has been collaboratively developed by educators, educational partners, and DPI. The toolkit provides schools/districts three resources that were designed to support the analysis of compliance with Act 20. The three resources include a processing template, communication tool, and resource library.

How will schools be reimbursed if they adopt a curriculum from the recommended list of early literacy curricula?

DPI will establish a non-competitive grant program in which school districts may apply to receive funds to be partially reimbursed for purchasing an early literacy curriculum from the recommended list. Note that Act 20 states that a school district may be reimbursed up to 50% of the cost and that these grants will be prorated based on the number of districts that apply.

If a school is already using an early literacy curriculum that appears on the recommended list, could they be reimbursed for any of the supplementary or on-going costs of that curriculum after January 1, 2024?

When the director of the DPI Wisconsin Reading Center is in place, DPI will be able to issue guidance on this question.

Bilingual Programs

What type of early literacy instruction do bilingual programs need to provide?

In a bilingual program, when the instruction is on English reading development, the curriculum and instruction need to align with the definition of “science-based early literacy instruction” that is in Act 20. For English reading development, the curriculum and instruction should be in English. For reading and language development of the target language, that curriculum and instruction should be in the target language.

Can bilingual programs administer required early literacy assessments in the target language?

The current state statute for the reading readiness screener does not allow for any kind of opt out and is clear that the screener must be given in English because the goal is to assess English reading development. Act 20 does not change this, so the single statewide reading screener will be the same for all students, in English, and will assess English reading development.

The purpose of the diagnostic reading assessment is to identify underlying issues with English reading development, so the diagnostic reading assessment must also be in English. Districts do have the authority to select and implement the diagnostic reading assessment they think is best.

Ultimately a bilingual program may want to choose to administer reading screeners and diagnostics in both English and the target language to have a full picture of reading development they can share with families with explanations about any differences.

Use of Federal Funds (updated January 10, 2024)

How does Act 20 impact federal fund use by school districts?

State and federal funds (Title funds, IDEA funds, or other federal funds) may not be used to purchase curriculum, intervention, or training that meets the definition of three-cueing in Act 20. All curricula, interventions, and training must align with the definition of “science-based early literacy instruction” found in Act 20.

See the below questions with more detailed information about the use of federal funds and Act 20 requirements.

Districts should work with their DPI Title I or IDEA contact to work through additional questions.

How does an LEA determine if a reading curriculum, intervention, or supplementary instructional resources does not violate the the three-cueing prohibition?

If an LEA can answer yes to both of the following critical questions, then the curriculum, intervention, or supplementary instructional resource does not violate the three-cueing prohibition and an LEA would be allowed to purchase and implement the curriculum, intervention, or supplementary instructional resource as appropriate.

  1. Does the curriculum, intervention, or supplementary instructional resource follow a specific scope and sequence?
  2. Does the curriculum, intervention, or supplementary instructional resource require the learner to apply their knowledge of phonics to solve an unknown word? 

If an LEA answers no to either of the above questions, then the purchase and implementation of the curriculum, intervention, or supplementary instructional resource is not allowed and may not be supported with state or federal funds (2 CFR 200.404(b).)

Can an LEA use federal funds to support, in whole or in part, professional development in reading that meets the Act 20 professional development requirement?

It depends on the federal funding source. The cost must be allocable (meets the intents and purposes of the federal grant) and allowed by the grant program.

An LEA may not use Title II funds to support, in whole or in part, professional development that is either required by Act 20 or to support Act 20 implementation. For example, Title II funds may not be used to support the Act 20 professional development requirement, or professional development necessary to implement the reading screener required under Act 20.

An LEA may use ESSER III, EBIS funds, or the Motion 57 LETRS grant funds to support professional development in reading that meets the Act 20 professional development requirement.

Can an LEA use federal funds to support, in whole or in part, a reading curriculum, intervention, or supplementary instructional resource that meets the requirements of Act 20 and does not incorporate three-cueing?

It depends on the federal funding source. The cost must be allocable (meets the intents and purposes of the federal grant) and allowed by the grant program. The following are some examples.

  1. An LEA may not use Title II funds for the purchase of a reading curriculum, intervention, or supplementary instructional resource because the purchase of a curriculum, intervention or supplementary instructional resource are not allocable to Title II (20 U.S.C. 6601).
  2. An LEA may not use Title III funds to pay for a school's core curriculum, reading intervention, or supplementary instructional resource for all students. These costs are not allocable to Title III. Title III funds could be used to purchase supplementary instructional resources to help learners access the content of the core curriculum or intervention. For example, an LEA could use Title III funds to engage families of English learners in activities that would support the core curriculum or intervention (20 U.S.C. 6825). 
  3. An LEA may not use Title IV-A funds to pay for a school's core curriculum. That would be supplanting. An LEA may, however, use Title IV-A funds for an intervention or supplementary instructional resources if they are aligned to an identified need AND if the LEA did not use either state or local funds for the same cost in the prior year (20 U.S.C. 7120). 
  4. An LEA may use ESSER III or EBIS grant funds to pay for a core curriculum, reading intervention, supplementary instructional resources, and cost of professional development that aligns with Act 20 requirements, in addition to other expenditures that meet students’ academic needs. The ESSER/EBIS funds do not have a “supplement, not supplant” requirement. Additional information about ESSER III allowability can be found on the DPI ESSER III page linked here, or by emailing essergrants@dpi.wi.gov
  5. An LEA may use the Motion 57 LETRS grant funds to pay for the cost of an eligible reading training. More details about these funds and eligible trainings can be found at the page linked here.

Contact your assigned DPI Title I consultant for further questions or support.

May an LEA use Title I part A funds to purchase reading curriculum, reading interventions, or supplementary reading instructional resources?

An LEA must either be exempt from the Title I Supplement not Supplant requirement, or ensure that it has a methodology in place to demonstrate they are in compliance with the Title I Supplement not Supplant requirement. For more information about this requirement, please visit this link. If the LEA is exempt or is meeting the Title I Supplement not Supplant methodology requirements, then the LEA may use Title I part A funds in the following ways.

  1. An LEA may use a Title I school-level allocation to purchase a reading curriculum, a reading intervention, or supplementary reading instructional resources for a Title I Schoolwide program if it addresses an identified need for all students in the school.
  2. An LEA may prorate the cost of a reading curriculum for a Title I Targeted Assistance school based on the number of identified Title I students with identified literacy needs if the curriculum addresses the identified needs of the identified Title I students.
  3. An LEA may use Title I funds to purchase a reading intervention or supplementary reading instructional materials to address the identified needs of identified Title I students in Targeted Assistance schools. 
  4. An LEA may use their Centralized Services reservation only if they are purchasing core reading curriculum, a reading intervention, or supplemental reading instructional resources for all the elementary schools; all of the elementary schools are Title I Schoolwide programs; AND the purchase(s) address the needs of students in all of the elementary Title I Schoolwide schools. (20 U.S.C. 6321(b).)

Contact your assigned DPI Title I consultant for further questions or support.

Early Literacy Curriculum Council

How will individuals be selected for the early literacy curriculum council?

Wisconsin Act 20 states that a Council on Early Literacy Curricula shall be comprised of nine individuals (three selected by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, three selected by the Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly, and three selected by the Senate Majority Leader).

Members of this council are required to have, “knowledge of or experience with science-based early literacy instruction” as defined in Act 20.

There is one common application that was used for all nine council members. Members were appointed in accordance with Act 20.

What is the time commitment of the early literacy curriculum council?

Council members can expect to spend four to 10 hours each week in a combination of collaborative and individual work time to meet the December 1st deadline of providing a list of recommended early literacy curricula to DPI.

How will early literacy curriculum council meetings take place?

The curriculum council will meet virtually after typical school hours. These meetings will be publicly noticed and open to the public to observe.

What are the responsibilities of the early literacy curriculum council?

Act 20 states that the early literacy curriculum council will review early literacy instructional materials for alignment to the definition of science-based early literacy instruction found in Act 20 and will present a list of recommended early literacy curricula to DPI based on that review. The first recommended list must be presented to DPI by December 1 and annually thereafter. DPI will publish the list of recommended early literacy curricula by January 1.

Act 20 also states that the early literacy curriculum council will consult with the State Superintendent on the individual who will serve as the Director of the Wisconsin Reading Center.

The DPI is also responsible for publishing a list of recommended diagnostic reading assessments and may consult with the early literacy curriculum council about assessments that should be included in this list. 

Assessments

What are the new reading readiness screener requirements and when do those requirements take effect?

A single reading readiness screener will be administered to Wisconsin students in 4K through grade 3 beginning in the school year 2024-2025. The assessment must be administered to 4K students twice per year. Once no more than 45 days into the school year and once no more than 45 days prior to the end of the school year.

A single readiness screener must be administered to students in 5K through grade 3, three times per year. Once no more than 45 days into the school year, once in the middle of the school year, and once no more than 45 days prior to the end of the school year

What will the new reading readiness screener be?

DPI is working through the formal state of Wisconsin procurement process to determine the single reading readiness screener that includes the requirements in Act 20. The screener must be in place by the start of the 2024-2025 school year.

What will be assessed on the new reading readiness screener?

Act 20 states that learners in 4K must be evaluated on phonemic awareness and letter sound knowledge.

Act 20 states that learners in 5K through grade 3 must be evaluated on phonemic awareness, decoding skills, alphabet knowledge, letter sound knowledge, and oral vocabulary.

Is there an opt out of the new reading readiness screener requirement?

No. Just like the existing reading readiness screener requirement, there is no ability for families to opt their child out of this requirement.

Are school districts required to notify families of reading readiness screener results?

Yes. Districts are required to notify parents and families with results of the reading readiness screener no later than 15 days after the assessment is scored. These notifications must be in a form understandable to the family.

Notifications must include the following information.

  • The pupil's score on the reading readiness assessment.
  • The pupil's score in each early literacy skill category assessed by the reading readiness assessment.
  • The pupil's percentile rank score on the reading readiness assessment, if available.
  • The definition of “at-risk” and the score on the reading readiness assessment that would indicate that a pupil is at-risk.
  • A plain language description of the literacy skills the reading readiness assessment is designed to measure.

When do districts need to administer a diagnostic reading assessment?

Any child that scores below the 25th percentile of the reading readiness screener must be administered a diagnostic reading assessment within 10 days after the reading readiness screener and no later than the 2nd Friday of November.

A diagnostic reading assessment must also be administered if a child has characteristics of dyslexia according to the Wisconsin Informational Guidebook for Dyslexia and Related Conditions and a caregiver or teacher requests a diagnostic reading assessment. In this case, the diagnostic reading assessment must be administered within 20 days of the request.

Will districts be required to select diagnostic assessments that are recommended by the curriculum council?

No. DPI will publish and maintain the list of diagnostic assessments recommended by the curriculum council, and local education agencies are responsible for (public schools and independent charter schools) selecting, procuring, and administering diagnostic reading assessments.

What is required to be included in the diagnostic reading assessment?

Act 20 states that a diagnostic reading assessment administered to students identified as at-risk on the screener, must include an evaluation of rapid naming, phonological awareness, word recognition, spelling, vocabulary, listening comprehension, and, when developmentally appropriate, oral reading fluency and reading comprehension.

In addition to the content requirements, Act 20 requires that a diagnostic reading assessment administered to students identified as at-risk on the screener, must have a sensitivity rate of at least 70 percent, a specificity rate of at least 80 percent, and it must include a growth measure.

Are school districts required to notify families of diagnostic reading assessment results?

Yes. If a child was administered a diagnostic reading assessment, those results must also be provided to parents. These notifications must be in a form understandable to the parents or families.

Notifications should include the child’s score in each of the literacy skills assessed along with a plain language description of those skills and the score that would indicate whether a child is at risk of challenges with reading development.

If a diagnostic reading assessment indicates that a child is at-risk, the following additional information must be included.

  • Information about how to make a special education referral.
  • A description of the common indicators and characteristics of dyslexia (found in Wisconsin Informational Guidebook for Dyslexia and Related Conditions).
  • Information about interventions and accommodations for children with characteristics of dyslexia (found in Wisconsin Informational Guidebook for Dyslexia and Related Conditions).
Family Notifications

What reading information are school districts required to share with families?

Beginning in the 2024-2025 school year, provide parents and families with results of the reading readiness screener no later than 15 days after the assessment is scored in an understandable format that includes all of the following:

  • The pupil's score on the reading readiness assessment.
  • The pupil's score in each early literacy skill category assessed by the reading readiness assessment.
  • The pupil's percentile rank score on the reading readiness assessment, if available.
  • The definition of “at-risk” and the score on the reading readiness assessment that would indicate that a pupil is at-risk.
  • A plain language description of the literacy skills the reading readiness assessment is designed to measure.

If a child is promoted to 4th grade without completing their personal reading plan, parents must be notified in writing along with a description of the reading interventions that child will continue to receive.

Are families required to acknowledge receipt of the reading information?

Parents must sign and return the personal reading plan to school.

What additional information are school districts required to share with families?

If a student’s diagnostic assessment indicates that a pupil is at-risk, a school board or operator of an independent charter school shall provide all of the following:

School districts should consult the manuals of the diagnostic reading assessment they have selected to determine whether the score indicates that a pupil is at-risk.

Statewide Early Literacy Coaches

Which schools will receive statewide early literacy coaches?

Act 20 states that half of the statewide early literacy coaches be placed in a combination of schools with the lowest percentage of learners scoring proficient in literacy on the summative state assessment, and schools with learners experiencing the greatest gaps in literacy according to the summative state assessment.

The other half of the statewide early literacy coaches will be placed in schools that request early literacy coaching support and that have the greatest need for early literacy instructional supports. Act 20 states the DPI Director of the Office of Reading shall determine where these coaches are placed in consultation with Cooperative Education Service Agencies (CESAs) and evenly across CESA regions.

Further, Act 20 states that there shall be a minimum of 3 coaches in each CESA region and a minimum of 2 coaches in a private school. A first-class city (Milwaukee) may have no more than 10 coaches and any other school district may have no more than 4 coaches.

Do schools have to accept one of these coaches?

No. Schools that may be identified as eligible to receive an Act 20 early literacy coach are not required to accept a coach.

For how long will schools be able to have these coaches?

Currently, there is funding through school year 2025-2026 for the statewide early literacy coaches.

How will statewide early literacy coaches be selected?

DPI shall conduct an open application process to identify individuals eligible to work in schools who have knowledge of and experience with science-based early literacy instruction as defined in Act 20, as well as instructional experiences with 5K-grade 12 students. In the event that DPI contracts with CESAs to secure early literacy coaches, eligibility requirements will be included in the contract. 

Do statewide early literacy coaches need to have a specific Wisconsin educator license?

Act 20 states that individuals who demonstrate knowledge and expertise in science-based early literacy instruction and instructional practices and have instructional experience in grades kindergarten to 12 may serve as literacy coaches. In addition, Wisconsin law requires those working in public schools to be licensed. Given that and the scope of the duties contained in the bill, the applicable license would be that of a district reading specialist, which is an administrative license.

What will the statewide early reading coaches do?

Act 20 states that the role of the statewide early reading coaches is to provide support to administrators, existing school-based literacy coaches, principals, and teachers to build teacher and school capacity to implement science-based early reading instruction as defined in the statute in order to increase the percentage of pupils who are reading at grade-level by the end of grade 3. Act 20 early literacy coaches are prohibited from doing other duties, and specifically prohibited from serving as a substitute teacher. Act 20 early literacy coaches may work in more than one school and across school districts but may not work in more than three schools.

Required Reading Training (updated January 10, 2024)

What reading training is required for educators?

By July 1, 2025, all individuals employed as a 5K-grade 3 teacher or reading teacher will need to begin a reading training that meets the following criteria.

Lexia Learning Systems, LLC, Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling training or another program endorsed by the Center for Effective Reading Instruction as an accredited independent teacher training program. These eligible trainings are found here.

Which educators are required to complete the reading training?

Educators who teach 5K-grade 3 reading, including reading teachers, special education teachers, and teachers of multilingual learners.

What reading training is required for administrators?

By July 1, 2025, all individuals employed as a district reading specialist or principal complete a reading training that meets the following criteria.

Offered by the Leadership in Literacy Institute or a provider that meets all of the following requirements:

  • The provider provides evidence of at least 5 years of experience conducting evidence-aligned, systematic, structured literacy training specifically for school principals, administrators, and literacy teams.
  • The provider demonstrates that the training content is aligned with the National Reading Panel Report and subsequent updates of the research by the Institute of Education Sciences.
  • The provider requires that training include a substantial focus and understanding on direct instruction.
  • The provider delivers the training over at least 6 days.
  • The provider provides participants with activities to implement evidence-aligned systems and structures that effectuate change in the school or school district.
  • The provider delivers training that allows for a minimum of 30 participants.

Programs currently identified as meeting the criteria for the training for district reading specialists and principals include:

  • Schools Cubed (Leadership in Literacy)
  • AIM Pathways to Literacy Leadership
  • American Reading Company (ARC) training for district leaders
  • Education Advisory Board (EAB)
  • Glean
  • Transformative Reading Group
  • LETRS for Administrators
  • CESA 8 literacy trainings for leaders
  • CESA 9 literacy trainings for leaders
  • CESA 6 literacy trainings for leaders

Which administrators are required to complete the administrator specific reading training?

District reading specialists and principals for grades 5K-3 are required to complete the administrator specific reading training.

Are there funds for schools for the required reading training?

Nothing is currently enumerated for training, specifically. Local education agencies (public schools and independent charters) are responsible for the associated costs.

An LEA may use ESSER III, EBIS funds, or the Motion 57 LETRS grant funds to support professional development in reading that meets the Act 20 professional development requirement. More details about these funds can be found at the page linked here.

How can other reading trainings or providers be added to the list of required reading trainings?

Act 20 is clear that the required reading training for 5K through grade 3 educators who provide reading instruction must be endorsed by the Center for Effective Reading Instruction as an accredited independent teacher training program. These trainings are found here and DPI does not have the ability to add other reading trainings to this list.

DPI will not continue to maintain a list of approved reading trainings for district administrators. School districts may review the criteria for the required reading training for administrators and review evidence from a provider to determine for themselves if a reading training meets the criteria. School districts may reach out to early.reading@dpi.wi.gov for questions or support.

If educators or administrators have previously participated in a reading training that meets the Act 20 criteria, do they have to participate in another reading training?

No. If an educator or administrator can  provide evidence that they have previously participated in a reading training that meets the Act 20 criteria, they do not need to participate in another eligible reading training.

How will the reading training requirement be enforced?

Local education agencies (public schools and independent charters) are responsible for ensuring that relevant educators have completed the necessary training. Each local education agency should develop a local system for keeping track of which educators and administrators have participated in a required reading training. 

Personal Reading Plans

Which students must receive a personal reading plan?

Any child in grades K-3 who scores below the 25th percentile on the reading readiness screener must receive a personal reading plan.

Who creates the personal reading plan?

The child’s school is responsible for creating the personal reading plan. The plan must include all of the following:

  • The pupil's specific early literacy skill deficiencies, as identified by the applicable assessment.
  • Goals and benchmarks for the pupil's progress toward grade-level literacy skills.
  • How the pupil's progress will be monitored.
  • A description of the interventions and any additional instructional services that will be provided to the pupil to address the pupil's early literacy skill deficiencies.
  • The programming that the pupil's teacher will use to provide reading instruction to the pupil. This programming must align to the definition of science-based early literacy instruction as stated in Act 20 and address the areas of phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
  • Strategies the pupil's parent is encouraged to use to help the pupil achieve grade-level literacy skills.
  • Any additional services available and appropriate to accelerate the pupil's early literacy skill development.

Do schools have to notify families about the personal reading plan?

Yes. Local education agencies (public schools and independent charter schools) will provide a copy of the personal reading plan to parents as well as provide progress updates after 10 weeks.

How do students exit a personal reading plan?

A plan is considered completed when school and parents decide that the child has met the goals of the plan and has shown an adequate rate of progress according to grade-specific measures.

How is “adequate rate of progress” defined?

Act 20 states that to exit a personalized reading plan, a child must demonstrate adequate rate of progress in reading development according to grade-specific measures.

For children enrolled in 5K, adequate rate of progress for the purpose of exiting a personalized reading plan are nonword or nonsense word fluency and phoneme segmentation fluency.

For children enrolled in grades 1, 2, or 3, adequate rate of progress for the purpose of exiting a personalized reading plan is oral reading fluency.

Children in grade 3 must also score at the proficient level of the state summative assessment in the area of reading.

School districts have the authority to select and implement the tool(s) they believe are best to measure those reading foundational skills and should consult the manuals of those tools to determine whether adequate rate of progress has been achieved.

What does “progress monitoring” mean here? Is it the same kind of progress monitoring required for special education evaluation when considering a specific learning disability?

Act 20 requires that schools monitor student reading development progress weekly. The term “progress monitoring” here does not have the same meaning as progress monitoring required for special education evaluation when considering specific learning disability. Some form of weekly progress monitoring is required and must be outlined in a child’s personalized reading plan. At some point, progress monitoring must demonstrate the student's progress toward the goals described above. Local education agencies (public schools and independent charter schools) will determine the most appropriate method of monitoring a child’s reading development progress and describe that process in their local early literacy remediation plan.

Data Collection and Reporting

What additional data do school districts need to collect and report to DPI?

By July 15, 2025, school districts must report the following information to DPI.

  • The number of pupils in grades 4K through grade 3 identified as at-risk on the reading readiness screener during the previous school year.
  • The names of the diagnostic reading assessments the district used in the previous school year.
  • The number of pupils identified as at-risk based on the results of a diagnostic reading assessment during the previous school year.
  • The number of 5K through grade 3 pupils who received reading interventions during the previous school year by grade-level.
  • The number of 5K through grade 3 pupils who received a personal reading plan during the previous school year.
  • The number of 5K through grade 3 pupils who exited reading interventions during the previous school year.
  • The number of 5K through grade 3 pupils for whom a special education referral was made based on diagnostic reading assessments in the previous school year.

How will school districts report that data to DPI?

DPI will establish systems and structures for districts to report that data to DPI and will likely use the WISE data collection systems already in place. School districts should begin to identify and establish their own systems and structures for collecting these data points.

Promotion Policy

Do school districts have to retain third-grade students based on reading assessment scores?

No. The DPI is required to create a model (or example) policy for promoting students from third grade to fourth grade that includes reading achievement criteria. Each school district must adopt and implement their own policy for promoting students from third grade to fourth grade that includes reading achievement criteria. This policy must be adopted and implemented by July 1, 2025. School districts are already required to have a policy for promoting students from fourth grade to fifth grade and from eighth grade to ninth grade.

What interventions must school districts provide to third-grade students promoted to fourth grade while still on a personal reading plan?

For those children promoted to fourth grade without exiting a personal reading plan, a district is required to do the following. Provide the child with intensive instructional services, progress monitoring, and supports to remediate identified areas of deficiency; provide the child with an intensive summer reading program each summer until the child scores at grade-level in reading on a summative assessment; and notify the child’s parent or caregiver in writing that the child has not exited the personal reading plan with a description of the services and supports that will be provided.

What does “intensive instructional services” mean?

Providing “intensive instructional services” means adjusting or intensifying instruction based on student response and the needs of the whole child. This could include providing more time for targeted instruction; reducing group size for explicit instruction and/or practice; grouping children with similar learning needs; increasing engagement strategies; and support for applying new and developing learning in independent reading and writing.

What does “progress monitoring” mean here? Is it the same kind of progress monitoring required for special education evaluation when considering a specific learning disability?

The term “progress monitoring” here does not have the same meaning as progress monitoring required for special education evaluation when considering specific learning disability. Some form of weekly progress monitoring is required and must be outlined in a child’s personalized reading plan. At some point, progress monitoring must demonstrate the student's progress toward the goals described above. Local education agencies (public schools and independent charter schools) will determine the most appropriate method of monitoring a child’s reading development progress and describe that process in their local early literacy remediation plan.

Are there any exceptions to these intervention requirements?

Yes. A good-cause exception for the intensive interventions of a student in grade 4 or above is allowed for the following.

  • A child identified as Limited English proficient; a child with an individual education program (IEP) that indicates that taking the relevant assessments is not appropriate for that child
  • A child who scores as proficient in reading on an alternative standardized assessment approved by the department
  • A child who has an IEP or a 504 plan that indicates the child has received intensive interventions in reading for more than two years and was previously retained in 5K, grade 1, grade 2, or grade 3.
  • A child who has received intensive interventions in reading for 2 or more school years and was previously retained in 5K, grade 1, grade 2, or grade 3.

How will districts pay for those interventions?

Just as they do for current interventions, districts must use a combination of local and state funds to pay for additional reading supports to children, including those required by Act 20.

Early Literacy Remediation Plan

What information are school districts required to publicly post?

Act 20 requires each school district to articulate and post an early literacy remediation plan that includes all of the following. The name of the diagnostic reading assessment the school districts uses; a description of the reading interventions the school district uses to address characteristics of dyslexia; a description of how the school district monitors pupil progress during interventions, including the tools used and their frequency; a description of how the school district uses early literacy assessment results to evaluate early literacy instruction; and a description of the parent notification policy that complies with Act 20.

School districts are still required to publicly post the academic standards that they use and to provide a link to Wisconsin’s Informational Guidebook on Dyslexia and Related Conditions on their school district website.

District Reading Specialists

Does Act 20 change the requirement to have a district reading specialist?

No, each school district is still required to have a district reading specialist.

Does Act 20 change the responsibilities of the district reading specialist?

Act 20 revised the required responsibilities of the district reading specialist to the following. Implement a reading curriculum in grades 5K through 12; act as a resource to classroom teachers to implement the reading curriculum; work with administrators to support and implement the reading curriculum; conduct an annual evaluation of the reading curriculum; and to coordinate the reading curriculum with other reading programs and other support services with the school district.

Educator Preparation Programs

What is required in educator preparation programs?

Educator preparation programs will be required to meet the requirement to provide instruction in science-based early literacy instruction as defined in Act 20 in order to endorse candidates for licensure beginning July 1, 2025. Approved preparation programs will be required to update their programs in the affected license areas.

Is the Foundations of Reading Test (FoRT) still required?

Act 20 does not change the requirement that prospective teachers pass the FORT, or an approved alternative for special education programs, in order to be licensed at the Tier II level. See DPI’s website for Educator Preparation Program Testing Requirements for details.

Choice Program and Private School Requirements

What is required for schools that are part of the Choice program? (updated March 19, 2024)

Private school participating in the Private School Choice Programs are prohibited from purchasing or implementing three-cueing instruction and curricula in grade K through 3; are eligible for the early literacy curricula reimbursement grants; and are required to adopt and implement a policy for promoting students from third-grade to fourth-grade that includes reading achievement criteria and required reading interventions for all tested students not at grade level in third grade. The DPI Office of Literacy must place at least two statewide early literacy coaches in Choice schools. The statewide summative reading assessment must be administered to Choice students and to non-choice students when a Choice school opts in to an All Student Report Card.

Choice school staff are not required to participate in a required reading training.

Choice schools are not required to administer the reading readiness screener or the diagnostic reading assessments.

Choice schools are not required to create personal reading plans for learners who are in need of intensive reading supports.

Choice schools are not required to create and post early literacy remediation plans identifying how they will provide supports to those learners who are in need of intensive reading supports.

What is required of Private Schools that do not participate in the Choice program? (updated March 1, 2024)

Private schools that do not participate in the Choice program are not subject to any Act 20 requirements.

Private schools that do not participate in the Choice program are not eligible to apply for the partial reimbursement curriculum grants. 

Find additional information and details about the Wisconsin Choice program at this link

Additional Information

Where can I find additional information about Act 20?

Additional information about Act 20 can be found at https://dpi.wi.gov/wi-reads.

Please send questions or concerns to early.reading@dpi.wi.gov