E4E Applauds City Leadership for Addressing Literacy Crisis With Ambitious Curricula Changes
May 9 (New York) — Gathered at P.S. 156 Waverly in Brooklyn this morning, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Public Schools Chancellor David Banks announced sweeping changes to the city’s ELA curriculum selection process for elementary schools. Over two years, all New York City elementary schools will move to one of three high-quality ELA curriculum options – Wit and Wisdom, Into Reading, and Expeditionary Learning. Each local superintendent will choose one of the three curricula options, and schools will receive investment in curriculum-aligned training and support. The city will also pilot a standardized algebra curriculum from Illustrative Mathematics at 150 high schools, and roll out a universal early childhood curriculum called The Creative Curriculum. These changes come after an event in January, where Educators for Excellence and its members advocated for city leadership to provide schools with high-quality, culturally relevant curricula options, while embedding materials in professional learning.
Kate Gutwillig, an elementary school teacher in Manhattan that was part of the committee that led advocacy efforts and formed recommendations to improve the city’s curricula selection process, highlighted how improving the quality of instruction in elementary schools could help address New York’s dire reading and literacy crisis.
“New York ranks near the bottom of the country in fourth grade NAEP reading scores, so this is one of the most urgent issues of our time” said Gutwillig. “I’ve seen the benefits of pivoting to evidence-based instruction, and I know that this historic shift will benefit other schools and students, the same way it’s benefitted mine.”
These changes also come after educators vocalized concerns, citing that teachers often spend time and money creating materials from scratch, when no resources are rendered to them.
“I’m excited about this announcement, because when we fail to give educators the tools they need, we burn them out and make them feel like they are doing something wrong,” said Sharon Roberts, an elementary school teacher in Queens. “I’m thrilled to see that this administration is turning things around by investing in educators, and giving us the tools that we need to help our students succeed.”
The decision from Mayor Adams and Chancellor Banks also comes amidst growing recognition that high quality instructional materials coupled with aligned professional learning will lead to significantly improved student learning.
“When students have greater access to grade-appropriate assignments, they gain nearly two months of additional learning compared to their peers,” said Marielys Divanne, Executive Director of Educators for Excellence-New York. “While educators need flexibility to meet the varying needs of students, we only have a fighting chance to meet the varying needs of students when we first have a coherent approach that provides quality instruction.”
Educators for Excellence praised the city’s leadership, and encouraged a continued commitment to implementing this change effectively.
“This is a positive first step, and we hope the city continues to engage teachers and the broader education community in this work,” said Evan Stone, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Educators for Excellence. “If these curricula options are implemented with fidelity, by incorporating high quality professional training, embedding assessments, and providing access to appropriate technology, then New York City will be on its way to becoming the standard for all large school districts in the country to follow.”
Founded by public school teachers, Educators for Excellence is a growing movement of more than 33,000 educators, united around a common set of values and principles for improving student learning and elevating the teaching profession. We work together to identify issues that impact our schools, create solutions to these challenges, and advocate for policies and programs that give all students access to a quality education.