April 26, 2024
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Celebrates Back to Basics Initiative to Improve Reading Proficiency in New York State

Governor Hochul Celebrates Back to Basics Initiative to Improve Reading Proficiency in New York State

As a Part of the FY 2025 Enacted Budget, the Governor Signed Legislation to Ensure Evidence-Based Reading Instruction is Used in the Classroom to Improve Reading Proficiency

Part of Governor Hochul’s Record Budget Investments in Education; Provides Nearly $36 Billion in School Aid, Including $24.9 Billion in Foundation Aid

Budget Also Invests $10 Million to Train 20,000 Teachers in Instructional Best Practices and Expands SUNY and CUNY’s Microcredentialing Programs for Teachers Focused on the Science of Reading

Governor Hochul Announced Members of the Administration to Visit Elementary Schools Across the State and Read to Classes to Highlight the Initiative

Governor Kathy Hochul today celebrated her ‘Back to Basics’ legislation signed into law as a part of the FY 2025 Enacted Budget. The Governor highlighted this crucial initiative at the Albany School of Humanities today where she visited a first grade class using instructional best practices grounded in the Science of Reading. Governor Hochul’s ‘Back to Basics’ plan ensures every New York classroom uses this type of evidence-based instruction to improve reading proficiency rates in New York State. This is part of Governor Hochul’s record investments in education through the FY 2025 Enacted Budget, which increases school aid by $1.3 billion to nearly $36 billion, including $24.9 billion in Foundation Aid.

“Reading is one of the most fundamental skills students need to learn, but currently our kids are not meeting basic reading proficiency levels,” Governor Hochul said. “With this Budget, we're throwing out debunked reading instruction practices and getting back to basics, using phonics, reading comprehension and other effective techniques to set our kids up for success.”


The ability to read by third grade is an important indicator of a student’s future success. Students who do not achieve proficiency by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school, with dropout rates even more pronounced for students of color and students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Additionally, failure to ensure reading proficiency at an early age has a cascading effect, potentially derailing a student’s academic trajectory, impacting future earning potential, health, and wellbeing. Recognizing the urgent need to improve reading proficiency and ensure student success, more than 30 states have transitioned to a ‘Back to Basics’ approach.

Governor Hochul’s 'Back to Basics' reading plan ensures every school district utilizes instructional best practices grounded in the science of reading to improve reading proficiency among New York's children. The State Education Department (SED) will provide instructional best practices to school districts in the teaching of reading to students in prekindergarten through grade three by January 1, 2025. School districts will be required to annually review their curriculum and instructional practices for alignment with those issued by SED, and verify by September 2025.

The Budget also includes $10 million to train 20,000 teachers in these instructional best practices through NYSUT's Education and Learning Trust. Additionally, the Budget expands the State University of New York and the City University of New York’s microcredentialing programs for teachers focused on the science of reading to ensure current and future teachers seeking advanced education are best prepared.

With this Budget, we're throwing out debunked reading instruction practices and getting back to basics.

Governor Kathy Hochul

As a part of Governor Hochul’s celebration of the ‘Back to Basics’ plan, members of her Administration will read to classes throughout the state and highlight the importance of using evidence-based best practices in the classroom.

State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, “Literacy is the cornerstone of education, unlocking worlds of knowledge and imagination. Empowering our educators with the resources to provide evidence-based reading instruction will give our students the tools to comprehend, analyze, and synthesize information effectively, laying the foundation for lifelong learning and success.”

SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr. said, “Governor Hochul’s Back to Basics initiative will enable generations of students to be strong readers and successful citizens. SUNY is New York State’s largest teacher preparation provider, and we look forward to scaling the successful SUNY New Paltz Science of Reading microcredential to further enhance the skills of our teachers and the success of our students.”

CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said, “CUNY is proud to contribute to Governor Hochul’s ‘Back to Basics’ plan by training current and future teachers to incorporate the science of reading in their classrooms. CUNY prepares nearly a quarter of New York State’s classroom teachers, and we are committed to equipping them with the skills, practices and credentials to ensure that all students can become proficient readers, an objective that is fundamental to advancing educational equity in our state.”

Governor Kathy Hochul makes an education budget announcement in Albany.  (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

NYSUT President Melinda Person said, “Since we announced this plan in January, I’ve talked to countless educators who are thrilled to have another tool to enhance literacy in our classrooms. These policies are guided by breakthroughs in brain science and backed by strong evidence from hundreds of studies. Our educators want to give every student the opportunity to feel the joy that comes with literacy, and increasing access to Science of Reading instruction is another way to support them in this empowering work.”

City School District of Albany Superintendent Joseph Hochreiter said, “We are grateful to Governor Hochul for coming to Albany School of Humanities – a National NSEA Distinguished School – to highlight this incredibly important literacy initiative for our entire state. The science of reading is working for students throughout our school district. We believe wholeheartedly in this approach, and we thank Governor Hochul for her leadership on this critical educational initiative for all of New York’s students.”

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640


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