December 7, 2023

Webinar Spotlights the Current State of NYC Reads and New York City’s Literacy Instruction Overhaul

The event comes amid the NYC Reads rollout, and shortly after the release of PISA results, which showed unprecedented declines in learning

December 7 (New York, NY) – Educators for Excellence – New York, in collaboration with the Knowledge Matters Campaign, held a webinar on December 6th at 5:00 p.m., spotlighting the current state of NYC Reads. The event follows New York City’s historic investment in the program, as well as the recent release of PISA results, which showed global drops in student performance, confirming the importance of high-quality instructional materials.

While NYC Reads offers a promising solution to the literacy challenges in New York City, Educators for Excellence – New York has called for active educator involvement to ensure the effectiveness of this transformative initiative. The webinar offered insights on EL Education, Wit and Wisdom, and Into Reading while highlighting the remaining support required to make the initiative a model for literacy education across the nation. 

When discussing Into Reading, for example, educators highlighted the pros and cons of the current state of their curriculum.

“When it comes to my experience, what has been powerful with the Into Reading curriculum, it incorporates the five pillars of reading instruction in its curriculum, helping students to build their fluency, phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension,” said Erica Boyce, an elementary educator in Queens. “I like how the texts are culturally responsive, reflecting the diverse backgrounds and experiences and identifies with our students.”

A key area for improvement, however, in regards to Into Reading, was that there’s a need for adjusting the lessons in a way that fits typical classroom time constraints.

“What has been hard for me, and also with some of my colleagues, when it comes to time constraints, there’s often limited time to cover all of the materials included in the curriculum,” said Boyce. “This is a challenge, as educators like myself often feel rushed.”

Speakers did acknowledge, however, that NYC Reads will understandably require time and patience, and that educators must lean into the change with a learning orientation for the first few years of its rollout.

“We are just a few months into this initiative in New York City,” said Jeta Donovan, Partner at The New Teacher Project (TNTP). “In the states and large districts that I have worked with that have made this change, it has taken several years to make sustainable change and see the types of gains in student outcomes that we want to see. And as we think about the ramp up in New York City Schools next year, both in expanding to all elementary schools in the city, but also increasing the reach around math curriculum implementation, there’s much more to do.”

While the main focus of the evening was on literacy, Educators for Excellence – New York also highlighted the urgent need for the city to adopt high-quality, evidenced-based math instruction. PISA results released earlier this week showed significant declines in math scores in the United States.

“While literacy is the foundation for reading and learning, a strong math foundation is also essential for students to excel in various disciplines, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields,” said Marielys Divanne, Executive Director of Educators for Excellence – New York. “When we see an unprecedented decline in math achievement across the country, it’s clear that we should be having a very similar effort and conversation about math.”

The full recording of the webinar can be found here

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Webinar Spotlights the Current State of NYC Reads and New York City’s Literacy Instruction Overhaul