On Tuesday, May 9th, Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Public Schools Chancellor David Banks announced the launch of a new literacy campaign called “New York City Reads.” The program, which is being launched citywide, will work to strengthen literacy after years of stagnant growth rates.
New York City students have failed at reading proficiency for years. Students also fail to perform algebra at grade level. At the announcement of the program, Chancellor Banks showed a presentation that said 30% of Asian students are not proficient in reading, 33% of White students are not proficient in reading, $63% of Latino students are not proficient in reading, and 64% of Black students are not proficient in reading.
Chancellor Banks said, “We have failed at our core mission. When parents send their children to our schools…there are 2 things that they should be able to expect and we’re supposed to be able to deliver. Their child should be safe and their child should learn how to read.”
The initiative by Adams and Banks is slated to improve performance in both math and English literature over the next two years and includes early childhood development and high school components.
In the press release announcing the launch of the program, Mayor Adams said, “The most basic thing we can do at our schools is ensure that all our students learn how to read and have the resources to thrive, but with more than half of our city’s public-school students reading below grade level, now is the time to act — and that is exactly what we are doing today.”
Approximately $35 million will be spent on training teachers on the new classroom instruction training for leaders as well as classroom materials. Chancellor Banks said, “Teaching children to be confident readers is job number one. Literacy is the foundation for all learning, and it is absolutely essential to a clear path to our students’ bold futures. By making an investment of resources in our children’s reading development, we are investing in their future, our city, and our nation. It is our collective responsibility to ensure every child has the tools, resources, and support needed to unlock their full potential and open every door of opportunity.”
The first two phases of the New York City Reads campaign will focus on early childhood programs and enhancing English Language Arts learning for elementary school students, ensuring students have a strong foundation.
The early childhood programs will begin in time for the 2023-2024 school year, with the implementation of the research-based program “The Creative Curriculum.” Teachers will have a new child assessment system as well as a screening program to enrich a child’s learning experience based on their interests, needs, and strengths. Training for the new program will begin in the spring and summer for implementation in the fall. Coaching will continue three times a month throughout the course of the school year.
There will also be a push for the “Mastery of Algebra” in an effort to help students understand calculus in the 12th grade as research shows it is linked to “increased chances of earning a bachelor’s degree.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic learning loss and the influx of non-English speaking migrant students, New York City Public Schools curriculums are being pushed to the limits and forced to evolve to the new educational climate. Schools will begin implementing new resources for instructional support across all grades, in all schools. In the announcement, New York City Public Schools said that publishers were incorporating multilingual learners into their programs and materials.
Mayor Adams said, “New York City Reads’ is a historic curriculum shift in the largest school district in the nation that will bring proven science-of-reading and phonics-based methods to all of our public school students, starting with our early childhood programs and our elementary schools.”
Adams continued, “We owe it to our young people, and we owe it to our educators who have been working hard to teach without access to the right tools. Through this campaign, New York City is finally setting up our students and teachers for success.”
The program has been well received by parents, including Benjamin Morden, the President of the Community Education Council District 2. He said, “I highly commend Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks for their decision to implement structured literacy curricula options for NYC Public Schools. The Science of Reading evidence has been known for two decades, teaching phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and reading comprehension improves student reading proficiencies. And by ending the previous balanced literacy approach, the Mayor and Chancellor are taking national leadership on evidence-based reading instruction.”
Morden continued, “This Tuesday’s other big education policy reveal was that NYC Public Schools will now take ownership for citywide reading proficiency outcomes and not permit non-standardized instruction in individual schools. By limiting education districts to one of three curriculum options, Chancellor Banks is ensuring that all schools will have access to a quality curriculum to meet the needs of more students. This organizational policy change is transformational because Chancellor Banks is signaling that the NYC Public Schools department is directly responsible for reading results. Chancellor Banks should be praised for this new direction in oversight and accountability to reduce illiteracy.”