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Walker signs reading, teacher evaluation bill


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) – Schools will begin this fall evaluating how well kindergarteners can read under a bill Governor Walker signed into law today.

The goal of the “Read to Lead” initiative is to ensure students can read at or above grade level by the time they reach the 3rd grade. The legislation will spend up to $800,000 on the reading assessment.

Walker returned to Franklin elementary school in Wausau to the sign the legislation in the same library where he read last May to third graders from the Dr. Seuss book “Oh! The Places You'll Go!”

“If kids aren't reading at or above grade level by the time they're going into 4th grade, statistically they're four times more likely not to graduate,” Walker said.

The measure also creates a system that, starting in the 2014-2015 school year, will evaluate teachers and principals based in part on student performance on standardized tests. Walker wants to see the evaluation expand to hold schools and school districts themselves accountable.

“When you measure progress, it's not just where are kids at overall, but where do kids start at and where do they progress to,” he said.

The Wisconsin Education Association Council, which is the largest teachers union in the state, criticized the legislation as lawmakers worked on it in February.

“Parents and educators across the state want a more holistic approach to school accountability, and this legislation based on the governor's proposals fails to deliver that,” said WEAC president Mary Bell.

On the Web: Governor Walker's bill signing statement (audio)