Today, just 41% of New York City’s 3rd grade students are proficient in English. Data show that proficiency at this age is critical for future academic success. Students who are not reading well by the end of 3rd grade are four times more likely to drop out once they reach high school. Meanwhile, students who are reading above grade level by 3rd grade are more likely not only to graduate high school, but also attend college.
In response, the City has set an ambitious goal: Within six years, at least two-thirds of students will be able to read on grade level by the end of 2nd grade, with a target of 100% literacy by 2026. To make this happen, the Department of Education (DOE) is deploying Universal Literacy Reading Coaches to support K-2 teachers in building students’ reading acquisition. In fall 2016, teachers in more than 100 elementary schools in four high-needs districts in Brooklyn and the Bronx became among the first to work with the new reading coaches.
While this program aims to improve literacy across the board, we know that high-needs students require additional intervention. To provide this, the New York Community Trust, through The Fund for Public Schools, is supporting the Reading Rescue program, a proven strategy for improving the reading skills of high-needs students through one-on-one tutoring.
The Literacy Trust currently runs Reading Rescue in 64 public schools in NYC, including 30 programs launched in the 2015-2016 school year with funding from the Young Men’s Initiative and the Center for Economic Opportunity. The support of the New York Community Trust allows the DOE to expand the Reading Rescue program to an additional 30 schools over the next two years, bringing the total to 94 sites citywide.
At the same time, the introduction of Universal Literacy gives the DOE the unique opportunity to study the intersection between school-wide literacy efforts and targeted interventions such as Reading Rescue. The support of the New York Community Trust will enable DOE to research the effectiveness of combining the two approaches, with the potential for expanding the program throughout the city.
The literacy tutoring is delivered to students by trained staff members one-on-one, 30 minutes per day, five days a week. Students who have participated in Reading Rescue typically reach grade-level proficiency in 40-60 sessions.
This expansion program will impact 300 students across the city in its first two years. As Reading Rescue is a capacity building model, DOE projects that more than 6,000 of New York’s most disadvantaged students in early grades will receive tutoring over the next decade as a result of this expansion.