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Policy Briefing Recap: The ABC’s of Literacy Instruction

Policy Briefing Recap: The ABC’s of Literacy Instruction

Special thanks to our panelists for an inspiring and educational event. From left to right, Maggie Moroff, Eileen Reiter and Esther Friedman.

Research shows that reading on grade level by third grade is a critical indicator of future academic success. Unfortunately, our Keeping Track data show that less than one-third of New York City’s third graders scored at or above proficiency on the 2013 New York State English Language Arts test. The percentages are even lower for students with disabilities and English Language Learners.

CCC recently held a policy briefing to explore best practices to promote literacy for our city’s youngest public school students.

Speakers included Dr. Esther Klein Freidman, the Director of Literacy and Academic Intervention Services at the New York City Department of Education; Eileen Reiter, Principal at PS 112; and Maggie Moroff, the Special Education Policy Coordinator at Advocates for Children of New York.

Dr. Klein Freidman defined literacy as being made up of several components: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking. She shared research highlighting how academic recovery can occur at any grade or age, but it is much more challenging for students if they do not have a strong foundation in phonics, vocabulary and fluency by the third grade.

To highlight efforts currently underway in New York City public schools, Eileen Reiter talked about the components of her school’s literacy program. PS 112 is an early childhood school in East Harlem serving students in grades Pre-K through second grade. The school serves high-needs students, many of whom receive special education and/or dual language programming (for English Language Learners).

To promote literacy and critical thinking, the school’s curriculum includes student to student conversations, shared reading, interactive writing, and oral presentations. Eileen also discussed what interventions PS 112 has in place for struggling students, including extended day and a Saturday academy.

Maggie Moroff provided insight on some of the specific issues facing students with disabilities and English Language Learners, including how some students face challenges in having their individual needs correctly identified and with accessing appropriate curriculum materials to meet those needs. English Language Learners also may struggle with learning to read in two languages – both their home language as well as English.

Maggie also discussed the work of the ARISE Coalition, a group of parents, educators and advocates working to improve the education of students with disabilities in New York City’s public schools including strategies to close the literacy gap.  

The policy briefing called attention to the need for increased sharing of best practices between schools, additional training and support for school staff, and dedicated funding to help schools meet students’ literacy needs during the school year as well as in summer school.

As our speakers highlighted, New York City has an important opportunity to strengthen outcomes for children by expanding efforts to meet the literacy needs of New York City students from the early grades. We look forward to continuing to work with our government and advocacy partners to ensure that every child is provided with the opportunity for a high-quality public school education.

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