January 3, 2024
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Unveils Second Proposal of 2024 State of the State: the ‘Back to Basics’ Plan to Improve Reading Proficiency

Governor Hochul Unveils Second Proposal of 2024 State of the State: the ‘Back to Basics’ Plan to Improve Reading Proficiency

Governor Will Propose Legislation to Ensure Evidence-Based Best Practices Are Used in Schools Throughout New York

To Help Students and Support Teachers, $10 Million State Investment Will Train 20,000 Teachers in “Science of Reading” Instruction

SUNY and CUNY Microcredential Program for Teachers Will Expand to Ensure Next Generation of Educators Utilize Evidence-Based Best Practices

Traducción al español

Governor Kathy Hochul today unveiled her Back to Basics plan to improve reading proficiency in New York as a part of her 2024 State of the State. To transition New York to reading instruction that teaches students the foundational skills they need to become proficient readers, Governor Hochul will introduce legislation that ensures evidence-based best practices are used throughout New York. The Governor will also propose $10 million in state investments to train 20,000 teachers in Science of Reading instructional best practices, and announced an expansion of SUNY and CUNY’s microcredentialing programs for teachers focused on the Science of Reading, to ensure our current and future teachers seeking advanced education are best prepared.

“Reading is the foundation of our education system, but New York State is currently not meeting basic reading proficiency levels,” Governor Hochul said. “We cannot continue to allow our kids to fall further behind by utilizing outdated and discredited approaches to reading comprehension. Our Back to Basics initiative will reset how schools approach reading, returning to scientifically proven techniques. Along with investments in teacher training programs, we are tackling this issue head on to make sure our teachers and kids are set up for success.”

https://www.youtube.com/embed/4GGer1ntBS4

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.

As a part of her 2024 State of the State, Governor Hochul is announcing several initiatives to get New York kids back on track.

Governor Hochul’s Back to Basics reading plan takes statewide action to ensure that every school district utilizes instructional best practices grounded in the Science of Reading. Governor Hochul will seek passage this year of legislation to require that the State Education Department (SED) promulgate instructional best practices in reading instruction, and that school districts adopt those practices. This approach includes teaching phonemic awareness, phonics, decoding, vocabulary, and comprehension. By September of 2025, all school districts will need to certify with SED that their curriculum, instructional strategies, and teacher professional development align with all elements of the instructional best practices.

Governor Hochul also announced $10 million for teacher training programs to ensure teachers are prepared to utilize evidence-based standards in the classroom. The New York State United Teachers and the United Federation Teachers have already begun training thousands of teachers in the Science of Reading, and this funding would support the training of 20,000 additional teachers and elementary school teaching assistants. 

To prepare New York’s current and future teachers seeking advanced education, Governor Hochul’s Back to Basics plan also includes enhancing and expanding the SUNY and CUNY Microcredential Program for Teachers focused on the Science of Reading.

Our Back to Basics initiative will reset how schools approach reading, returning to scientifically proven techniques."

Governor Kathy Hochul

New York State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa said, “Fostering literacy excellence and empowering young minds are paramount to nurturing the educational journey of our state’s youngest learners. Drawing from evidence-based literacy instruction methods, our educators are able to provide a comprehensive approach that enhances literacy skills and equips learners with the tools needed for effective communication and lifelong learning. The State Education Department is working to ensure all students have the resources they need to be successful in literacy and life, no matter their learning differences. All students deserve the opportunity of a high-quality education that allows them to thrive.”

SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. said, "Governor Hochul’s proposed $10 million investment to support thousands of teachers in implementing the Science of Reading will enable generations of students to be strong readers, and successful citizens. SUNY is the largest training ground for and educator of New York’s teachers. We’re proud of the Science of Reading microcredential now in place at SUNY New Paltz, and we look forward to growing the program, the skills of our teachers, and the success of our students, further.”

CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said, “We are pleased to support Governor Hochul’s ‘Back to Basics’ plan to elevate early literacy in New York schools by incorporating the science of reading in teacher education and ensuring that all students gain the fundamental skills they need to be proficient readers. CUNY prepares nearly a quarter of New York State’s classroom teachers, and we are committed to equipping them with the best practices to improve reading instruction, advancing educational equity in our city and state.”

NYSUT President Melinda Person said, “We know that reading unlocks worlds for children, and educators know it is a key to academic success. This is an investment in our students’ futures. By providing our educators with access to new resources and professional development, we are giving every student the opportunity to become a strong reader.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal said, "Reading proficiency is the cornerstone of a successful education, but most children in New York don't meet basic reading standards by third grade. Outcomes are especially dire for the thousands of students with dyslexia, like my own daughter, who wasn't even diagnosed until fourth grade. Countless children are not diagnosed with dyslexia until it's too late, if they ever learn of their status. Last month, Governor Hochul took a stand for children throughout the state by signing my legislation to establish a Dyslexia and Dysgraphia Task Force, and I'm proud to stand with her today to support the transition to evidence-based reading instruction in every school. This legislation and funding will be transformational for kids throughout our great state."

Assemblymember Robert Carroll said, “I commend Governor Hochul for this important proposal to help improve teacher training with regard to how reading is taught in our state. She correctly names and identifies one of the root causes of our state’s literacy crisis – the use of curricula and approaches to teaching literacy not grounded in the science of reading. I have been a staunch advocate for following the science of reading and as person with dyslexia know first-hand how important the use of evidence-based methods are. The research is clear that all students do better when teachers are trained on the science of reading and evidence-based practices are implemented with fidelity and I look forward to continuing to work with the Governor to make this the reality in New York State.”

Governor Hochul Unveils Second Proposal of 2024 State of the State: the ‘Back to Basics’ Plan to Improve Reading Proficiency

New York State Council of School Superintendents Executive Director Charles Dedrick said, “Our State Constitution promises all our children an education that can prepare them for success in adult life. To deliver on that promise, our young readers need the best prepared teachers and strongest support the state can provide. Reading builds a foundation for all other learning. We thank Governor Hochul for once again making a commitment to support our work.”

New York State School Boards Association Executive Director Robert S. Schneider said, “Strong literacy skills provide the foundation for future learning and workplace success. We applaud Governor Hochul for her efforts to ensure that our teachers use proven techniques for reading instruction, and for providing funding to support these professional development opportunities. The governor’s initiatives to improve effective reading instruction will help better prepare our students for the future.”

School Administrators Association of New York State Executive Director Kevin Casey said, “The Governor’s initiative to improve reading instruction, through the science of reading and evidence- based practices, continues New York’s strong commitment to educational excellence. This work takes strong leadership, resources, and sustained commitments. The Governor’s announcement of a $10 million investment to improve reading instruction is a strong start to support schools undertaking this work.”

New York State PTA President Helen Hoffman said, “NYS PTA is excited that Governor Hochul is supporting our great educators, schools, families and children in this important work. The science of reading instruction has certainly changed over the years, and with this new infusion of resources, support for the important work classroom teachers do each day will be expanded. We also thank the State Education Department for their continued support of literacy, and critical work they do Supporting Kids, Raising Awareness.”

New York State PTA Executive Director and Parent of a School-Aged Child Kyle Belokopitsky, Esq. said, “Parents agree - literacy support, especially early literacy support, is a key component to student success. Parents, families, educators and schools work each day to support children’s reading and literacy goals, and the dedication of our educators in instilling the love of reading in our children is unparalleled. We thank Governor Hochul for this proposal and look forward to working collectively to make every child’s potential a reality.”

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
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