The Thompson Center is set to host a summit addressing concerns on declining early literacy rates across Wisconsin at the Monona Terrace on Wednesday.
Around one-third of Wisconsin students are not caught up to their respective grade levels’ reading level, with Wisconsin’s Black student population making up the lowest reading scores in the nation. As a result, the center has invited four panel members who will lend their knowledge on the issues and offer different solutions.
The Thompson Center specializes in “showcasing examples of leadership” and displays countless examples of this publicly through its hosting of “various speakers across the state.”
The center’s director Alexander Tahk explained the overall goal of the summit and how it aims to inform attendees on the importance of early literacy.
“The ultimate goal of the summit is to help inform and inspire efforts to improve the state of early literacy education in Wisconsin and that those efforts are effective,” Tahk said. “Early literacy is an area where Wisconsin has substantial room for improvement and where it might be possible to reach a bipartisan legislative solution to advance this.”
The summit’s panel of speakers includes Emily Hanford, a senior correspondent for American Public Media, Dr. Kymyona Burk, the senior policy fellow for ExcelinEd, Donna Hejtmanek, former president of the Literary Task Force in Northern Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s own Mark S. Seidenberg, a Vilas Research Professor and Donald O. Hebb Professor on campus.
“Our panelists will speak on the challenges of early literacy in Wisconsin,” Tahk noted. “That includes the current state of reading education in Wisconsin, the ‘science of reading’ or the body research on how people learn to read and related topics, the obstacles to improving reading education in Wisconsin and how those obstacles might be overcome.”
The center remarked that it is enthusiastic “to learn more on how [they] can improve [Wisconsin’s] reading levels” using knowledge and advice from the speakers.
Oftentimes, students who read below their assigned grade levels are faced with lower chances of graduating high school and higher chances of living in poverty at some point in their lifetime.
Although the Thompson Center is “not an advocacy group,” Tahk explained, he “hope[s] that legislators, educators and other community leaders at the event will find it useful in considering policy changes that might improve the state of early literacy and that it might help motivate more efforts on the subject.”
The summit will take place at the Monona Terrace on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 11:30 a.m. There is also a livestream option for those unable to attend the event in-person. The link can be found on the Thompson Center’s website.