New Report Shows NYS Teacher Prep Programs are Woefully Inadequate in the Most Important Part of the Job – Teaching Children to Read

Assemblymember Simon to introduce bill to audit teaching programs to ensure they include evidenced-based literacy instruction

Albany, NY - Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon will introduce a new bill to require the New York State Education Department to survey New York’s teacher education programs to identify the programs that are using evidenced-based practices consistent with the how the brain reads, and the programs that continue to use debunked methods that will ultimately fail to teach our children to read. This will allow us to identify obstacles and solutions to our literacy crisis. Literacy rates among children are at a crisis level in New York State: over two-thirds of fourth-graders are unable to read proficiently, which is even worse than the national average. nationally, only 1/3 are unable to read proficiently. 

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) just released a report that shows New York State’s teacher preparation is woefully inadequate and performs worse than the national average on several fronts. Nationally, only 25% of programs adequately train future teachers how to utilize the scientific methods, which includes the 5 core components of reading identified by the National Reading Panel in 2000: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Not a single New York literacy program prepares our teachers of tomorrow for all 5 pillars of reading instruction. Perhaps even worse: 45% of teaching programs in New York State fail to utilize any of the 5 pillars of evidenced-based literacy instruction that has proven effective for decades. This only perpetuates the dismal reading proficiency levels in our state.

Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon said, “This damning report shows that New York State is utterly failing our future teachers and our kids by using debunked literacy instruction methods. Not only are colleges of education not teaching their students what they need to know, they are teaching them to use the least valid approaches. We have been under-educating children in key areas fundamental to successful reading. This is completely unacceptable and will result in raising new generations of New Yorkers who are unable to read. New York’s schools of education have been putting the cart before the horse in a big way and for a long time.No wonder only 38% of our 4th graders can read proficiently.”

Simon continued, “In states where reading has been addressed head on by incorporating structured literacy in educating tomorrow’s teachers, the literacy rates are vastly improved.

This dismal data has nothing to do with the students and families, and everything to do with inequities in access to effective literacy instruction. New York simply must start teaching our college of education students – in both undergraduate and graduate programs – how to teach reading according to the scientific evidence that has been amassed. When we do this, we will dramatically reduce our rates of reading failure and change the lives of New York’s children for the better.”

Among the more shocking data – besides the fact that not one NY program got an “A” grade and only 5 received a “B” grade – is that 61% of the programs evaluated got an “F” grade. New York’s data broken out in comparison to the nation’s sorry picture is even worse.The most important pillar of reading instruction - phonemic awareness, the key building block of reading - is in fact the skill least taught to our teacher trainees, at an abysmal 13% in our State. Far too many programs include failed practices that the research has thoroughly debunked, such as “balanced literacy,” “leveled readers,” “three-cuing,” and student assessment via Reading Records.

Another troubling element of the report shows that nearly half (34) of New York’s colleges of education did not even respond to the NCTQ survey, including a few programs that had been evaluated in the past – one quite favorably. Assemblymember Simon’s new bill will ensure every P-12 education and educational leadership program in our State is thoroughly evaluated for the adequacy and methodology of their literacy instruction.