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Schools focus on reading to meet 'Common Core' requirements

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Wisconsin schools will put a new emphasis on reading during the school year that began in earnest yesterday. Early education teachers have a new goal of getting kids ready-to-read by the first grade, to help Wisconsin meet the new Common Core voluntary national standards for English and language arts. Students will be tested on the basis of those standards, in an effort to improve Wisconsin reading scores that have lagged behind other states.

The new state budget has $2.5-million to provide literacy screening for kindergarteners and first-graders. Officials say it will help teachers identify student needs.

Also, incoming teachers will be better trained for reading instruction. Starting in January, new teaching candidates will have to pass tests to ensure that they know the key elements of reading courses.

Wisconsin’s reading scores have shown little-or-no improvement since the mid-1990’s. Two years ago, the Badger State ranked 16th in fourth grade reading scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Wisconsin was second in that department in 1994.