Equity and Excellence for All initiative improving literacy instruction at 107 elementary schools, expanding to all Bronx elementary schools next year
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced that kindergarten through 2nd grade students at the 107 elementary schools participating in the Universal Literacy initiative this year will receive 10 to 12 free, grade-appropriate books for summer reading, in order to sustain and build their literacy skills over the summer months. The Mayor and Chancellor made the announcement at Bedford Park Elementary School in the Bronx, where they read to a 2nd-grade class and gave away the first summer reading books to students and families.
Through Universal Literacy – one of the initiatives in Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña’s Equity and Excellence for All agenda – schools receive support from a dedicated reading coach, who works with kindergarten through 2nd grade teachers to ensure students are reading on grade level by the end of 2nd grade. The goal of the initiative is to have at least two-thirds of students reading proficiently by the end of 2nd grade by 2022, with the target of 100 percent of all 2nd-graders reading at grade level by 2026.
“Ensuring our kids are reading on grade level by the end of 2nd grade is not a 10-month effort. If we’re serious about giving them the tools they need to succeed, we need to make sure they stay on track even during the summer months,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Providing students with books to take home and read throughout the summer helps continue on the work we started during the previous school year and will continue again in the fall. Consistency is key, so we’re doing what we can to keep our kids reading all year long.”
“As a longtime educator, I understand that a strong early foundation is what puts our students on the path to long-term success, and our investment in Universal Literacy is essential,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “The new summer reading books for students at Universal Literacy schools will stave off summer learning loss, build a love of reading in our children, and give families an opportunity to read and learn together.”
This year, Universal Literacy is being implemented in all 107 elementary schools in Districts 9 and 10 in the Bronx, and Districts 17 and 32 in Brooklyn. In 2017-18, the initiative will expand to 306 schools across 14 school districts – including all districts in the Bronx; Districts 5 and 6 in Manhattan; and Districts 16, 18, 19, and 23 in Brooklyn. By the 2018-19 school year, this initiative will expand to all 32 New York City school districts.
Each kindergarten through 2nd grade student at the 107 Universal Literacy elementary schools will receive 10 to 12 grade-appropriate, fiction and nonfiction books of their choice to take home, along with a parent letter explaining the importance of summer reading and introducing family reading strategies. Reading coaches are also encouraged to work with families around summer reading suggestions and strategies at parent workshops and family engagement events. Books will be delivered to schools in June, and Universal Literacy reading coaches will work with principals to organize book fairs at their school where students can select their set of books from about 40 titles. The cost of these summer reading books is approximately $1.4 million.
Under this administration, the percentage of students reading at grade level in New York City has increased by 44 percent over the past three years. This year’s increases were highest in 3rd and 4th grades, following the City’s focus on early literacy instruction and intervention since January 2014. These have included new vocabulary resources; citywide professional development sessions attended by thousands of educators; as well as tools to identify struggling students and targeted supports for them including one-to-one tutoring and small-group instruction. The Universal Literacy initiative builds on this work.
Universal Literacy is a key initiative in Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Fariña’s Equity and Excellence for All agenda. The Equity and Excellence for All agenda aims to ensure that by 2026, 80 percent of students graduate high school on time and two-thirds of graduates are college ready.
From Pre-K for All to College Access for All, the Equity and Excellence for All initiatives are building a pathway to success in college and careers for all students. Our schools are starting earlier – free, full-day, high-quality pre-K for every four-year-old through Pre-K for All. They are strengthening foundational skills and instruction earlier – Universal Literacy so that every student is reading on grade level by the end of 2nd grade; and Algebra for All to improve elementary- and middle-school math instruction and ensure that all 8th graders have access to algebra. They are offering students more challenging, hands-on, college and career-aligned coursework – Computer Science for All brings 21st-century computer science instruction to every school, and AP for All will give all high school students access to at least five Advanced Placement courses. Along the way, they are giving students and families additional support through College Access for All, Single Shepherd, and investment in Community Schools.