- The science of reading is continuing to gain steam at the state level, as New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a plan Wednesday to introduce state legislation that would require schools to adopt best practices used by the state education department for evidence-based literacy instruction.
- By September 2025, schools would have to align their curriculum, instructional strategies and teacher professional development with state education department requirements for teaching phonemic awareness, phonics, decoding, vocabulary and comprehension.
- Additionally, Hochul proposed distributing $10 million in state funds to train 20,000 teachers and elementary school teaching assistants on these best practices. She also announced an expansion of related microcredentialing programs centered on the reading strategy, through the State University of New York and City University of New York.
During her 2024 State of State address on Wednesday, Hochul shared these proposals as part of her “Back to Basics” initiative, which aims to “reset how schools approach reading, returning to scientifically proven techniques.”
In line with nationwide trends, New York saw declining reading test scores among 4th graders on the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress. New York’s average reading score on the Nation’s Report Card was 214, slightly below the national average of 216. That represented a 6-point drop from the state's average score of 220 in 2019.
New York’s NAEP reading proficiency levels also saw declines — dipping from 34% to 30% between 2019 and 2022.
“Reading is the foundation of our education system, but New York State is currently not meeting basic reading proficiency levels,” Hochul said. “We cannot continue to allow our kids to fall further behind by utilizing outdated and discredited approaches to reading comprehension.”
Other states like California and Illinois are also shifting attention to the science of reading as a key approach in literacy instruction. From requiring early grade lessons to be based in the science of reading to deciding whether to promote students to the next grade level, 30 states passed literacy instruction laws within the last several years, according to an analysis by FutureEd.
But while some states are ramping up these efforts, research has shown most teachers are not adequately prepared to teach the approach.
In a June analysis of nearly 700 teacher prep programs, the National Council on Teacher Quality found only 25% properly instruct all five components of scientifically backed reading lessons: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. The NCTQ report added that states can play a role in implementing requirements and regulations in literacy instruction practices within teacher prep programs.