“New York City Reads,” a new  citywide literacy campaign to ensure that all our students learn how to read

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor David C. Banks on May 9, 2023,  launched “New York City Reads”, a new citywide literacy campaign. Two days later after the  launch of  the new campaign, New York City Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor David C. Banks alongside with three New York City public schools’ deputy chancellors ( Kara Hamed, Danika Rux, Carolyne Quintana), hold an in-person roundtable with ethnic and community media to discuss the new citywide literacy campaign “New York City Reads”.

A study shows that “ 51% of NYC elementary school students are not reading proficiently.” The same study states that 30% of Asian students are not proficient in reading; 33% of White students are not reading proficiently; 63% of Latino students are not reading proficiently; and 64% of Black students are not reading proficiently.”

Those statistics according to Banks and his colleagues requires “ a call to action.” For them,  the system put in place was not the best one. “ In New York City our school system does not have a unique way, many schools are doing their own things,” Banks said.

Banks also said that this is not just a New York issue. “ Our nation’s children are not proficient in reading,” he 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,” said New York City  Mayor Eric Adams during a meeting with the press.

“The New York City Reads” campaign focuses classroom instruction on proven, research-based curricula, supported by intensive coaching and professional learning for educators aligned with those specific curricula, in order to ensure all public-school students, in every neighborhood, regardless of their background or identity, is experiencing rigorous, relevant, engaging reading instruction that works. Implemented over two years, this initiative will streamline and enhance curricular resources in early childhood and elementary classrooms, as well as in high school algebra courses. Additionally, it will provide approximately $35 million next year for training and coaching to help teachers and leaders effectively implement the classroom materials and address their students’ needs.

Starting in the 2023-2024 school year, all New York City public school early childhood programs will adopt and implement “The Creative Curriculum” — a nationally used, research-based program. Alongside this curriculum, early childhood programs will use “Teaching Strategies GOLD,” an authentic child assessment system, and “Ages & Stages,” a developmental screener to inform the planning of rich learning experiences tailored to each child’s strengths, interests, and needs.

Phase one of the plan will begin next school year with superintendents in 15 community school districts selecting a single research-backed curriculum for use in all elementary school ELA classrooms. Educators will receive intensive training from a curriculum-aligned professional development partner organization this spring to prepare for full implementation in the fall. Superintendents will choose between “Into Reading,” “Wit & Wisdom,” and “EL Education” based on engagement with principals and an analysis of current school materials. In phase two, the remaining 17 districts will purchase new curriculum materials in the fall of 2023 and spend the year preparing for full implementation in the 2024-2025 school year.

Beginning in the 2023-2024 school year, 178 high schools across seven superintendents’ districts will implement a consistent, research-based Algebra 1 curriculum. Mastery of Algebra early is critical for students to reach calculus by 12th grade and is linked to increased chances of earning a bachelor’s degree, particularly for low-income students.

“ We want to make sure that everyone is doing this with fidelity,” said Banks and his three colleagues who said that the old system will be taken out to make sure that schools are implementing the new system.

“We want to make sure that parents are part of this,” they said. “We want community-based organizations  to work with us, we have to develop stronger leaders.”

Bazona Barnabe Bado  

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