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New York City Aims to Place Reading Coaches in Every Elementary School

As part of a larger equity-focused agenda announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chancellor Carmen Fariña last fall, New York City public schools are working on a 10-year deadline to get all students reading proficiently by the end of 2nd grade.

A major piece of that effort will be putting, on average, one reading coach in every elementary school. The district is currently looking to hire about 100 reading coaches for this September. Officials are planning to fill all the positions by the 2018-19 school year. 

"Grade 3 is very predictive," Esther Klein Friedman, the executive director of literacy and academic intervention services for the New York City education department, said in an interview recently. "We figure if we've got [students] solidly locked down in reading by the end of grade 2, we've got a really good foundation to sit on."

The coaches will train and support K-2 teachers in their schools. They'll receive intensive professional development over the summer to get ready for the role. Their work will emphasize use of the five pillars of reading laid out in the 2000 National Reading Panel report—phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Individual schools will still be able to choose their own specific reading programs. 

"It's really much more support than the teachers have had," said Friedman. "This is going to be very high-impact because it's at the school level, and that's something that wasn't there before."

The district is also pushing efforts to get all students taking Algebra I by the end of 9th grade and to require all schools to offer computer-science courses


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