Friday, March 17, 2017

Literacy Support in NYC

We recently learned about an exciting new initiative from the New York City Department of Education – their Equity and Excellence Initiative. One pillar of this platform is called Universal Literacy. The DOE has called for universal literacy for all public school students by the end of second grade; they believe that with the right supports, by 2026 all students will be reading on grade level in second grade. To jump start this process, 103 new hires joined the DOE team as dedicated reading coaches in the spring of 2016, and they all received intensive training over the summer. Their role is to work with the younger elementary grades’ teachers and administrators to provide dedicated literacy support. Over the next few years, all elementary schools will have access to a dedicated reading coach with specialized training. If your child is having difficulty with reading or just needs some extra support, it may be a good idea to find out what your school is already doing to improve literacy in its K-2 classrooms. A dedicated coach may already be on staff.

One of our favorite organizations, Advocates for Children of New York (AFC), recently published a new fact sheet on literacy. AFC is a local organization that protects the rights of our city’s children most at risk of school failure or discrimination. Their website has an extensive list of guides for parents about navigating your way through the school system. Their new literacy fact sheet is called "Parent-Teacher Conferences: Questions to Ask your Child’s Teacher about How Well He or She is Learning to Read and Write."  It provides a very detailed list of questions to ask teachers during conferences, including more targeted questions for when there are concerns about the progress your child is making.

Another noteworthy literacy document on the AFC website is called "Questions & Answers about Literacy: A Fact Sheet for Families of Students who Need More Helping Learning to Read and Write." This fact sheet provide a brief overview of the Response to Intervention framework, which is one way that schools figure out which students need extra support and what level of support they require. It also has information on how to find the right person in your district to talk to about getting help, and it outlines the rights of families surrounding the special education evaluation process. The fact sheet includes some descriptions of other services to consider, such as classroom accommodations and structured multi-sensory reading instruction, a Yellin Center favorite.

The AFC website is chock full of resources, including a guide to early intervention services in NYC and their short podcast about the NYC high school application process. They are a terrific independent, nonprofit resource, always deserving of support. 

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