New York City Public Schools Will Now Be Required To Actually Teach Kids To Read
New York City has announced that the city’s public elementary schools will now be forced to use a curriculum that actually teaches children how to read.
On Tuesday, David C. Banks, the chancellor of the city’s Department of Education, unveiled new rules governing reading instruction in New York City public schools, mandating that schools adopt one of three evidence-based reading programs. A school can only apply for an exception to the new rules if more than 85 percent of its student body is deemed “proficient” in reading—a distinction held by only around 20 schools in the entire city.
The move comes in the wake of increased criticism toward how reading is taught in American schools, sparked by a sharp national decline in post-COVID reading scores, and a popular podcast from American Public Media that detailed the failures of the commonly used “balanced literacy” approach.
Notably, Banks implemented new rules last year requiring that New York City public schools include phonics in their reading instruction. However, the new guidelines build on these changes, ushering in what is effectively a ban on balanced literacy—a popular, though unscientific, approach to teaching reading that some experts say undermines the skills children are taught in phonics instruction.
Balanced literacy, which also goes by other names like the “whole language” method or “three cueing,” focuses on having children read whole words, rather than sounding them out. The method also encourages children to simply guess unfamiliar words by relying on context from factors like pictures in a book. In contrast, phonics teaches children to read by focusing on the sounds that different letters and groups of letters make.
“The prevailing approaches to reading instruction in American schools are inconsistent with basic things scientists have discovered about how children learn to read. Many educators don’t know the science, and in some cases actively resist it,” journalist Emily Hanford noted in “Hard Words,” an episode from the Educate podcast about why science-backed reading methods aren’t being adopted in American schools.
“The basic assumption that underlies typical reading instruction in many schools is that learning to read is a natural process, much like learning to talk,” Hanford adds. “But decades of scientific research has revealed that reading doesn’t come naturally. The human brain isn’t wired to read. Kids must be explicitly taught how to connect sounds with letters—phonics.”
Even though research has long shown phonics to be the most effective way to teach
Article from Latest