Too many students in New York, particularly students of color and from low-income backgrounds, are not reading proficiently, requiring urgent action from state and local leaders. On January 30th, The Education Trust–New York announced it is continuing its work on literacy with the launch of The New York Campaign for Early Literacy. Dozens of education advocates gathered at the state capital in Albany to call on state leaders for change. The Campaign is a statewide movement designed to harness the collective voices of individuals and civil rights, education, parents, and nonprofit organizations to improve student reading outcomes, from birth to age 8.
“Reading is a civil and human right, and all children can learn to read with the right support. The mission of the New York Campaign for Early Literacy is to create policy changes at the state and local levels to promote the use of evidence-based instruction aligned with the science of reading,” said Jeff Smink, Interim Executive Director for The Education Trust–New York. “When students are taught to read it opens doors to a much brighter future, where anything is possible.”
In 2023, Ed Trust–NY released a report, A Call to Action: The State of Early Literacy in New York, highlighting a disjointed early literacy landscape in the state. New York is one of five states yet to enact any laws related to the science of reading, a vast body of scientifically based research on how children learn to read. While there has been considerable progress toward alignment of instructional practice and policy with the science of reading across the state, much more can be done to improve student early literacy outcomes.
“It’s baffling that New York is one of the only states that doesn’t have any laws to ensure children can read on grade level, because high-quality curriculum, professional learning and educator feedback loops are proven to be effective,” said Marielys Divanne, Executive Director of Educators for Excellence-New York.
In early January, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed legislation that would support evidence-based literacy instruction aligned with the science of reading throughout the state. Hochul said she would allocate $10 million to train 20,000 teachers in the “science of reading” instruction.
Over the past eighteen months, Ed Trust–NY has connected with stakeholders across the state and found growing interest and concern from parents, caregivers, educators, and community leaders regarding literacy outcomes and classroom instruction, along with widespread recognition that New York education leaders, while taking encouraging steps, have yet to comprehensively address literacy with the deliberate urgency that students deserve.
“We are at a seminal moment regarding reading instruction for our kids in New York State. We know what works, and we must make a targeted, intentional, systemic effort to improve our students’ reading outcomes regardless of their community,” said Anibal Soler Jr., Superintendent of Schenectady City School District. “We cannot allow socioeconomic status to be the predictor of reading abilities. Prioritizing funding and instructional practices will be vital to our success across New York State.”
The Campaign is made up of more than 80 organizations and individuals representing children and families, including parents, students, educators, school leaders, non-profits, libraries, policymakers, and others committed to ensuring that more New York students read proficiently by the end of third grade.
“We need to invest in early literacy from the beginning, since the foundation is set in the earliest years. It’s imperative that New York State not only embraces the science of reading but supports effective and supportive techniques and curricula. Administrators, educators, community members, all need to work together to ensure that children are being taught what we now know as the best practice,” said Jenn O’Connor, Director of Partnerships and Early Childhood Policy for The Education Trust–New York.
Currently, New York State ranks 37th for reading proficiency in third grade. The New York Campaign for Early Literacy wants the state to join other states across the nation that are committing legislation and funding toward “the science of reading.”
To learn more about the New Campaign for Early Literacy visit the website: EdTrustNY.org/NYEarlyLiteracyCampaign