New York is forcing schools to change the way they teach kids to read (2023)


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Half of children in grades three through eight fail reading tests. The city's school superintendent, who has criticized the current approach, will begin developing new curricula next year.

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New York is forcing schools to change the way they teach kids to read (1)

DoorTroy Clawson

Hundreds of public schools have been teaching the wrong way for the past two decades, leaving untold numbers of children struggling to learn a critical life skill, New York's school chancellor said.

Now David S. Banks, the chancellor, wants to "sound the alarm" and plans to force the nation's largest school system to adopt a new approach.

On Tuesday, Mr. Banks proposed major changes to reading education to address a persistent problem: About half of inner-city children in grades three through eight are not proficient in reading. Black, Latino and low-income children fare even worse.

In a recent interview, Mr. Banks said the city's approach was "fundamentally flawed" and did not follow the science of how students learn to read.

"It's not your fault. It's not your child's fault. It was our fault," Mr Banks said, "This is the start of a huge turnaround."

Over the next two years, the city's 32 local school districts will adopt one of three curricula chosen by their superintendents. The curricula use evidence-based practices, including phonics – which teaches children how to decode letter sounds – and avoidingstrategiesMany reading experts say they have flaws, such as teaching children to use pictures to guess words.

The move represents a major shift in a city where principals have historically retained power over their individual schools' approaches to instruction.

Half of the districts will start the program in September. the others will begin in 2024. Exemptions will only be considered for schools where more than 85 percent of students can read well, a threshold that only about 20 schools meet.

The country's largest district is joining an effort to change reading

The move represents the most significant reading overhaul in New York City since the early 2000s, when some of the programs the Chancellor is now trying to uproot first began. It will immediately put the city on the front linegrowing national movement to reform reading education.

Experts, lawmakers and families are pushing to abandon strategies that a large body of research shows don't work for all students and adopt a set of practices known as "science of reading

The stakes are clear: kids who can't read well in third grade are at a disadvantage. They are more likely to drop out of high school, be incarcerated, and live in poverty as adults.

However, curriculum reform is a huge undertaking. The challenges are perhaps nowhere more evident than in New York City, a sprawling system of some 700 elementary schools and a large population of underprivileged children.

The city is one of the top markets for a much-loved "balanced literacy" curriculum. The approach aims to foster a passion for books, but has sometimes been criticized for incorporating too little systematic instruction in basic reading skills. Banks called the approach "an old way that failed too many kids."


The new plan is supported by the teachers' union, but has drawn immediate skepticism from some teachers, who often say there are big changesthey come with inadequate training. It also angered the city's principals' union, which called a single curriculum approach "pedagogically untenable" in such a large system.

But New York City never offered "the right plan" to reading, Mr. Banks said. Teachers are blamed for failures that weren't theirs, she said, and families without answers about what went wrong when their children were left behind.

As national reading scores have stagnated,nearly 20 stateshave prioritized phonics alongside work to expand students' background knowledge, vocabulary and oral language skills, which research shows most children need to understand how to decode words and understand what they read.

"I'm excited," Susan Neumann, an early literacy expert and former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said of the city's plans.

"This is a bold effort," he said. "And I think it's the right way."

Changing reading education means changing teachers

If New York City's announcement is the starting point, there's a tough road ahead.

Research showsthat a new curriculum alone does not improve learning outcomes. Major changes require teachers to reshape existing practices and understanding of a subject through intensive training and coaching. Otherwise, they may rely on old instincts.

Even supporters of the plan admit that a lot can go wrong. Some worry that the other side of literacy—writing—needs more substantial attention. Or that unaddressed pandemic learning losses could impede progress.

And looking at how elementary schools teach young students to read won't help older students who haven't learned those skills.

The city will also have to overcome the frustrations of many school administrators about the plan's development, as well as the fervent loyalty of some to the programs they use now.

Hundreds of primary schools used a popular Teachers College balanced literacy curriculum known as Units of Study in 2019,according to reports by two local news outlets, Chalkbeat and The City. The curriculum has received failing grades froma large organizationevaluation of program quality. But many school leaders appreciate the focus on developing children's passion for books, as well as the strong professional development offerings for teachers.

Multiplechiefs of the cityto havedefended this curriculumpublic. Another Brooklyn principal, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of retaliation, called the development discouraging and said their school was doing well with a modified version of the Units of Study combined with a phonics program.

Henry Rubio, head of the principals' union, said a recent survey found that three out of four school principals were "dissatisfied" with the plan's development.

"It's a lack of respect for the community and the school leader to come on board to make this work," Mr. Rubio said. "What does this do to confidence and morale?"

Schools will have a limited menu of reading curricula

Under the plan, all school districts will adopt one of three curricula that have received high scores from national curriculum review groups.

Carolyne Quintana, the vice president for teaching and learning, said officials weighed factors such as text quality and student accessibility before narrowing the choices down to a small group of superintendents.


The three options have some important differences:

  • Wit & Wisdom is known forhis strong focusfor building knowledge, whatit is important tohelp students understand what they read. It does not cover basic skills such as phonics, so it would be combined with a phonics program such as Foundations, which many schoolsare already using. Schools in Baltimore, where about 60 percent of the children are low-income, reported modest gains after adopting them.

  • Expeditionary Learning has an explicit phonics program and includes concept-based texts in other subjects, such as social studies, and a stronger writing component. It also includes significant amounts of additional teaching material and guidance that schools may need additional assistance with. The curriculum is used in Detroit, which has seen some progress since its launch.

  • Into Reading is the more traditional option, a "basic" program that uses texts written specifically for teaching reading. It was chosen by most districts in the first phase of development, although some teachers and principals have expressed concernrecent report from New York Universitywhose content "likely reinforces stereotypes and portrays people of color in inferior and destructive ways." Ms. Quintana said the company has assured officials that it is "working determinedly to make revisions."

Mr Banks said he believed the changes would "make life easier for everyone".

Many teachers spend hours searching for - or even creating - materials to fill gaps in the existing curriculum. And when kids don't have stable housing or change schools frequently for other reasons, it can be harder to re-enter when classrooms use different approaches.

The chancellor has found an important ally in Michael Mulgrew, the president of the teachers' union, who has long advocated a more unified approach across the city. "We support that idea," Mr Mulgrew said.

"But there will be pessimism in all schools," he added.

Does this mean the end of the reader wars?

The change marks the latest — and what the chancellor says should be the last — major change to the city's reading education.

Twenty years ago, under Bloomberg,Chancellor Joel Kleinushered in the era of balanced literacy in the city's schools, until a lack of progress made himtry other approaches. Years later, another chancellor,Carmen Farina, a proponent of independent reading time and letting students choose their own books, again encouraged schools to adopt these strategies.

Richard Carranzahe called the patchwork of city practices unfeasible when he ran the system, but his tenure overlapped with the first year of the pandemic and the readout came to an end.

Mr Banks and Mayor Eric Adams, who has dyslexia, said reading would be one of the administration's top priorities. Mr. Banks has already asked for schoolsadopt voice programsInopened many new programsfor students with dyslexia.

Teacher training for the new programs begins this week and continues through the summer, and mentoring continues throughout the school year. The goal is for teachers to return in the fall with their first unit fully scheduled, officials said. In the coming months, preschool education providers will also be trained.

The first phase of the rollout includes several areas where children have struggled the most, including Harlem (Area 5), ​​Northeast Bronx (12), East New York (19), Brownsville (23) and Southeast Queens (32). .

Sharon Roberts, special education teacher at P.S. 9, at Walter Reed School in Queens, said she was "hopeful for the first time in years."

Ms. Roberts said it has long been left to her to "fill in the blanks" and find materials that work for her students' needs. But for the plan to succeed, he said, teachers "need to be treated with respect again."

"We are tired of being blamed for so many things that are beyond our control," he said.


Continue reading the main story


New York is forcing schools to change the way they teach kids to read? ›

New York Is Forcing Schools to Change How They Teach Children to Read. Half of children in grades three to eight fail reading tests. The city's schools chancellor

schools chancellor
List of New York City Schools chancellors. Individuals who have led the New York City school system include: David C. Banks 2022–present. › New_York_City_Schools_Chancellor
, who has faulted the current approach, will begin rolling out new curriculums next year.

What is the new reading program in NYC? ›

The way reading is taught in New York City public schools is about to make a 180-degree shift, from a system that teaches children to use picture clues to guess words to a phonics-based system that teaches kids to decode letters.

Does NY State teach phonics? ›

Schools will now adopt one of three curriculums using phonics, which teach how to decode letter sounds instead of more recently employed methods like using picture clues to guess words. Half of the districts will begin the program in September; the others will start in 2024.

Why don t schools teach phonics anymore? ›

After several decades of so-called reading wars, where dubious theories led educators to abandon the phonics method in favor of a variety of divergent — and often unsuccessful — literacy learning techniques, a growing number of states and districts are right back where they started.

What is NYC reads? ›

“'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.

What is the daily 5 reading program? ›

Daily 5 is a literacy management system developed by Joan Moser and Gail Boucher, 2 sisters from America. The system has 5 components- read to self, read to someone, listen to reading, work on writing and word work. Students are explicitly taught how to work within each component to achieve success.

What is New Worlds reading program? ›

The New Worlds Reading Initiative is a free Florida literacy program for K-5 public or charter school students currently reading below grade level.

Does New York still teach cursive? ›

Although cursive writing is not required as part of the New York State Learning Standards, many elementary teachers do spend time teaching cursive writing in third grade and beyond.”

Can you teach reading without phonics? ›

Yes, but proponents of phonics sometimes overstate how much more effective it is to teach kids the sounds that letters make. “Phonics is marginally better,” said Timothy Shanahan, a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an expert on the research in reading instruction.

Is New York a good state to teach in? ›

Teachers are more fairly compensated in some states than in others, though. According to WalletHub, the most teacher-friendly state in 2022 is New York.
Best states for teachers:
Overall Rank1
StateNew York
Total Score59.33
Opportunity & Competition5
50 more columns
Sep 19, 2022

What is the phonics teaching controversy? ›

Phonics, a method of correlating sounds with letters, may not seem like a controversial concept, but it's anathema in some academic circles. Many teachers dismiss the practice of sounding out words as old-fashioned drudgery that prevents children from loving literature.

What are the disadvantages of phonics? ›

Research shows two disadvantages to phonics. The first disadvantage is good phonics instruction can not be regulated, it depends on the teachers. A teacher's knowledge of phonics affects their ability to teach phonics so if a teacher does no know or understand phonics they will have a hard time teaching phonics.

When did US schools stop teaching phonics? ›

By 1930, phonics – meaning explicit teaching of the code – has been abandoned in most of the nation's classrooms. 1930 – 1965: Whole Word becomes the dominant top-down method for teaching reading in the United States.

Can you turn on read in New York? ›

You are not allowed to turn on a red light in New York City unless a sign that permits it is posted.

Can anyone read in the New York Public Library? ›

Free for All New Yorkers

Cards are free for anyone who lives, works, attends school, or pays property tax in New York State. Out-of-state visitors can apply for a temporary card.

What is the best way to read the New York Times? ›

How to Read The New York Times
  1. You must acquire the newspaper. ...
  2. Peruse the day's top stories. ...
  3. Begin to analyze the stories you select for class attention. ...
  4. As you read through the stories, make a decision about whether you need to take a note or two or clip the story with important items marked.

What is Texas Reads? ›

TXReads is a project of Literacy San Antonio, Inc. to successfully teach children to read by training and inspiring teachers to use science-based reading instruction (SBRI).

What is Cafe reading? ›

CAFE stands for the literacy goals of Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expand Vocabulary, and the CAFE Menu contains the strategies readers use to meet the four main goals of reading.

What is Super Kids reading program? ›

Superkids is a comprehensive English language arts curriculum crafted for grades K–2 using evidence-based literacy practices. This proven-effective program follows a unique systematic and explicit instructional path through engaging, increasingly complex text.

Who is eligible for New Worlds reading? ›

To be eligible for New Worlds Reading, a child must not yet be reading on grade level, and must be a K-5 student enrolled in a Florida public or district-sponsored charter school.

What is America reads? ›

The America Reads and America Counts programs are federally funded programs providing students with the opportunity to tutor preschool and elementary school-aged children in reading and math.

Who owns New Worlds reading? ›

The New Worlds Reading Scholarship, administered by Step Up For Students, was created to help public school students in grades K-5 who struggle with reading.

Why did the US stop teaching cursive? ›

Due to multiple factors including stylistic choices and technological advancement, the use of cursive has quickly declined since the start of the 21st century. Cursive has traditionally been used as a way of signing one's name, a signature.

How many states still require cursive to be taught? ›

Only 21 states currently require cursive instruction, according to the National Education Association.

How many states still teach cursive? ›

There are currently 21 states that require cursive in public school curriculum, but the debate about keyboarding versus cursive rages on.

Can a non-verbal child learn to read? ›

2) Expect that those who are non-verbal or minimally verbal can learn to read with adequate and appropriate instruction. No one is 'too low', 'too old', or 'too non- verbal' for literacy instruction or related goals to be in their IEP.

When should I stop teaching phonics? ›

As phonics skills and knowledge are critical for decoding ability, phonics instruction should continue beyond Year 2 for the two thirds of students who have not achieved reading proficiency.

How do you teach a child who Cannot read? ›

Here are 10 simple steps to teach your child to read at home:
  1. Use songs and nursery rhymes to build phonemic awareness. ...
  2. Make simple word cards at home. ...
  3. Engage your child in a print-rich environment. ...
  4. Play word games at home or in the car. ...
  5. Understand the core skills involved in teaching kids to read. ...
  6. Play with letter magnets.
Sep 16, 2018

What is a teacher's salary in NY? ›

Salaries by years of experience in New York, NY
Years of experiencePer hour
1 to 2 years$37.60
3 to 5 years-
6 to 9 years$43.84
More than 10 years$50.36
1 more row

Do teachers get paid a lot in New York? ›

In the 2021-22 school year, starting salaries will range from $61,070 (bachelor's degree, no prior teaching experience) to $77,953 (master's degree, seven years teaching experience, plus additional coursework).

What is the highest salary for teachers in NY? ›

The average pay in the Scarsdale school district is $156,140, making it the highest of any in the area.

What is the read Right program? ›

Read Right is a highly structured reading intervention program designed to produce rapid reading improvement for children, teens, and adults regardless of labels that have been attached—RTI, Title I, English language learners, or special education (including dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, autistic, etc.).

What is the Let's read program? ›

Let's Read provides disadvantaged parents and carers with reading books and support to encourage them to have fun reading with their young children. The program also encourages children to develop a love of books and the ability to name letters and play with the sounds of words.

What is the reading ready program? ›

i-Ready Reading includes: Lessons that teach foundational skills such as phonological awareness, high-frequency words, and phonics to help students understand their connection to reading. Vocabulary lessons at earlier grade levels that teach words researchers have identified as the most essential to reading success.

What is the reading program called Star? ›

STudent Achievement in Reading (STAR) is a national professional development initiative for adult reading instruction created by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE).

What is the failure free reading program? ›

Failure Free Reading is a language development program designed to improve vocabulary, fluency, word recognition, and reading comprehension for students in kindergarten through grade 12 who score in the bottom 15% on standardized tests and who have not responded to conventional beginning reading instruction.

What are the four reading programs? ›

The Four Blocks Reading Program, or Four Blocks Framework, is a balanced literacy program that has been in use in elementary schools since 1989. Central to the program is the use on a daily basis of four elements of literacy instruction -- guided reading, self selected reading, writing and working with words.

Does accelerated reading program work? ›

According to research, children who read at least 35 minutes a day with a 90% comprehension rate (average percent correct) on AR quizzes see the greatest gains academically. Therefore, your child should have at least 35 minutes set aside for reading in school as well as at home.

What is Super kids reading program? ›

Superkids is a comprehensive English language arts curriculum crafted for grades K–2 using evidence-based literacy practices. This proven-effective program follows a unique systematic and explicit instructional path through engaging, increasingly complex text.

Does reading recovery still exist? ›

Reading Recovery has a strong tradition of success with the lowest-achieving children. Developed in New Zealand 30 years ago, Reading Recovery now also operates in most states in the United States, as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs Schools, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

Is Orton Gillingham a reading program? ›

Orton–Gillingham is a teaching approach that was designed to help struggling readers. It explicitly teaches the connections between letters and sounds. Many reading programs include Orton–Gillingham ideas.

Why are schools using i-Ready? ›

The purpose of i-Ready is to provide personalized instruction and support the needs of all learners. i-Ready supports teachers as they plan instruction, set goals with students, and assess learner progress.

Is i-Ready a good curriculum? ›

The i-Ready system is not dangerous. More than 23,000 schools, representing more than 10 million students, use this assessment tool to provide safe and reliable learning assessments. Studies show that Grades K–8 students who use i-Ready show greater improvements in math and reading than those who do not.

What is magnetic reading? ›

Magnetic Reading is a Grades 3–5 reading comprehension program that connects the art of teaching with the Science of Reading to develop successful, proficient, and confident readers.

What grade is star reading test? ›

It lists the STAR Reading scale score ranges for below-, on-, and above-grade level performance for grades K–12 on the Common Core State Standards for Reading, including scale score ranges for on-grade level classifications for each of the three trimesters.

How accurate is star reading test? ›

Star Assessments provide reliable, valid data

Star Assessments are: Highly rated by the National Center for Intensive Intervention (NCII) Relied on by over 34,000 schools and districts across the US.

What grade level is star early literacy? ›


offers two computer-adaptive assessments of reading skills: STAR Early Literacy and STAR Reading™. STAR Early Literacy, a criterion-referenced assessment for students in grades pre-Kindergarten to 3, measures students' skills in seven content areas essential to reading readiness.


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