The Education Trust–New York Launches New York Campaign for Early Literacy

Jan 30, 2024 | Press Release

NEW YORK – 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. The Education Trust–New York announced it is continuing its work on literacy with the launch of The New York Campaign for Early Literacy today at the state capitol. 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. “We are building on the momentum from our literacy report and recent state action by joining together with these diverse partners to find solutions for this crisis.”

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.

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 initial steps, have yet to comprehensively address literacy with the deliberate urgency that students deserve.

Ed Trust–NY created the New York Campaign for Early Literacy with the following goals:

  • Continue raising awareness and urgency with state and local leaders about the literacy crisis facing New York children from birth to age 8.
  • Advocate for policy changes and instructional shifts that promote evidence-based literacy instruction in the classroom and beyond.
  • Support effective implementation of new policies and instructional shifts by amplifying promising practices, analyzing early literacy data, and providing continued advocacy for these changes at the state, school, and community levels.

The Campaign is made up of nearly 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 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. I hope that all school system leaders, teachers, and key stakeholders prioritize literacy moving forward.”

“At National Parents Union NY, we have been sounding the alarm that our kids are behind- less than half of NY students are reading on grade level. We commend the governor for making this one of her top priorities this year. It is time for real improvements to NY education- including how we teach and learn to read,” said Ashara Baker, New York State Director of National Parents Union.

“We have a literacy crisis here in New York State. In 2022, only 30% of 4th grade students across our State achieved a level of proficiency or higher on their standardized reading exams. Unfortunately, that is not a shock, considering that New York is one of only five states in the nation that has not enacted any laws related to the science of reading. We need a major investment in early childhood education to best prepare our children for the future,” said Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal (D-Manhattan). “I’m proud that last year Governor Hochul signed our Dyslexia Task Force Act (S2599/A133) with Assembly Member Carroll, into law, establishing a task force to create best practices to help students with dyslexia, but there is so much more we can be doing. This session, Assembly Member Carroll and I have introduced the Right to Read Act (S5480A/A2897A), which will require school districts across the state to use literary education methods that are proven to be scientifically effective, rather than outdated approaches that we now know are no longer as helpful as they were once thought to be. Let’s invest in the most valuable resource we have, our kids, and help every child in New York learn to read.”

“Early wholistic literacy are fundamentals for all children and parents. Every child should have these opportunities available to them from the start no matter their ethnic or economic background,” said Andre Eaton, MSW, ParentChild+. “We need to invest not only in methods like phonics for teachers but give parents/caregivers the tools from the beginning as they are the first and primary teachers of the child. We are excited about this Campaign for Early Literacy because it is their futures that are at stake.”

“In New York City, teachers demanded a literacy overhaul and they’re already seeing that evidence-based instruction is working with the rollout of NYC Reads,” said Marielys Divanne, Executive Director of Educators for Excellence-New York. “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.”

“I commend all the groups and individuals that are part of the New York Campaign for Early Literacy for leading the fight to see that literacy education for children in our State follows the science of reading. I believe every child has the right to read and I have been committed to reforming New York’s approach to teaching reading since joining the legislature seven years ago. It’s thanks to our combined efforts that the Governor in this year’s Executive Budget has included measures regarding literacy education embracing evidence-based practices,” said Assemblyman Robert Carroll (D/WF-Brooklyn). “The fight is far from over and we must now ensure that a comprehensive legislative framework is put in place and the necessary resources committed so that all children in New York State become fluent readers and successful students.”

For more information about the campaign and partners visit our website:

Media Inquiries Contact:

Elizabeth Chmurak, Communications Director
[email protected]
Phone: 332-236-8990

About The New York Campaign for Early Literacy
The New York Campaign for Early Literacy, convened by The Education Trust–New York, is designed to harness the collective voice of New Yorkers committed to better reading outcomes by seeking policy change at the state and local levels through the adoption of evidence-based instruction and materials aligned with the science of reading from birth onward; subsequent professional learning for educators; and improved public transparency regarding literacy materials used in classrooms. A diverse group of individuals and civil rights, education, parent, and nonprofit organizations comprise the Campaign, which unites around the principle that reading is a civil and human right and all children can learn to read by the end of third grade with evidence-based instruction and holistic support inside and outside of school, beginning at birth.