Mayor Adams Unveils Program to Address Dyslexia in N.Y.C. Schools

Lola Fadulu:

Mayor Eric Adams announced Thursday the details of a plan to turn around a literacy crisis in New York City and, in particular, to serve thousands of children in public schools who may have dyslexia, an issue deeply personal to the mayor, who has said his own undiagnosed dyslexia hurt his academic career.

School officials plan to screen nearly all students for dyslexia, while 80 elementary schools and 80 middle schools will receive additional support for addressing the needs of children with dyslexia. The city will also open two new dyslexia programs — one at P.S. 125 Ralph Bunche in Harlem and the other at P.S. 161 Juan Ponce de Leon in the South Bronx — with a goal of opening similar programs in each borough by 2023.

Officials also plan to train all teachers, and will create a new dyslexia task force. School leaders are requiring school principals to pivot to a phonics-based literacy curriculum, which literacy experts say is the most effective way to teach reading to most children.

“Dyslexia holds back too many of our children in school but most importantly in life,” Mr. Adams said during a press briefing Thursday morning, adding that it “haunts you forever until you can get the proper treatment that you deserve.”

New York is facing a literacy crisis: Fewer than half of all third to eighth graders and just 36 percent of Black and Latino students were proficient on the state reading exams administered in 2019, the most recent year for which there is data. Research suggests that the coronavirus pandemic has only worsened those outcomes.