New New York City Reading Programs

Alex Zimmerman:

New York City’s elementary schools will be required to use one of three reading curriculums, a tectonic shift that education officials hope will improve literacy rates across the nation’s largest school system.

Beginning in September, elementary schools in 15 of the city’s 32 districts will be required to use one of three programs selected by the education department, Chancellor David Banks and Mayor Eric Adams announced Tuesday. By September 2024, all of the city’s roughly 700 elementary schools will be required to use one of the three. Chalkbeat first reported the plans in March. 

The new mandate won support from the teachers union, whose leaders expressed faith in the city’s efforts to train thousands of teachers on new materials. Training for the first year is expected to cost $35 million, though city officials declined to provide an estimate of the effort’s overall price tag, including the cost of purchasing materials.

Meanwhile, the plan earned a strong rebuke from the union representing principals, who have long had wide latitude to choose which materials their teachers use. That freedom has allowed school leaders to use programs that vary widely in their approach and quality, Banks has argued.