What is Literacy?

Literacy is the ability to read, write, speak, and listen effectively. These skills enable students to express themselves clearly, listen to others, gain knowledge, and build an understanding of the world around us.

What Does Literacy Instruction Look Like?

While each school selects its own literacy curriculum, there are common features in every New York City Public School classroom. These include books that help students apply new reading skills in context and units of study that teachers use for reading and writing instruction.

Schools have a focused, intentional sequence of lessons for both reading and writing for the school year so that the instruction is planned thoughtfully. Lessons include:

  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading and writing
  • Opportunities for thinking
  • Rich discussion with peers in pairs or in small groups

Teachers model good questioning and encourage students to ask questions about what they read and learn. Students receive instruction on specific strategies to help them read difficult text, and practice using those strategies on a variety of reading passages, both fiction and nonfiction. These texts are selected to meaningfully reflect the rich cultural and ethnic diversity in our schools. There are also opportunities for daily independent reading and writing guided by the classroom teacher, and school libraries offer opportunities for further inquiry and research projects. Finally, examples of student work applying what they have learned to their research, analysis, and writing are displayed in classrooms and hallways so everyone can learn from each other’s efforts.

Some of the additional features you can expect to see in your child’s school are the following:

NYC Reads

Beginning in the 2023–24 school year, we will be launching an initiative called NYC Reads. The goal is to ensure that all New York City students become strong readers, which is the single most important skill required for educational, career, and lifetime success. Based on extensive research, NYC Reads will ensure that pre-K and elementary school students receive the most effective reading instruction materials and methods.

Phasing in over two years, NYC Reads will require all early childhood education classrooms to adopt a single, uniform curriculum called The Creative Curriculum, while K-5 schools will use one of three pre-approved, phonics-based reading curricula that have proven to be effective. The new literacy program will be implemented in 15 community school districts in 2023-24, with all districts adopting it by the following school year.

For more information about NYC Reads, and to learn about the curriculum options that districts can choose from, please visit our NYC Reads webpage.

Literacy Assessments

To ensure our students become strong and thriving readers, our educators use assessment data to help them make instructional decisions that will best meet the needs of their students. All core curriculum programs will provide both formative and summative curriculum-based assessments.

  • Formative assessments monitor students learning so that educators can identify their strengths and weaknesses, and adapt their instructional practices accordingly.
  • Summative Assessments evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit.

Furthermore, all students will be administered a universal screener, three times per year. Screener options include:

  • Acadience Reading: required for students in grades K–2; available for students in grades K–5
  • MAP Growth: approved for students in grades 3–10; approved for Spanish reading for students in grades K–8
  • iReady Reading: approved for students in grades 3–10
  • Degrees of Reading Power: approved for students in grades 3-10

The purpose of these screeners is to identify students who are having difficulties with reading, so that additional supports can be made available.

Build Reading and Writing Skills at Home

Support and strengthen your child’s growing literacy skills outside of the classroom to help them become strong and confident readers! See the flyer below for different ways your family can easily work fun language and literacy activities into your daily routine.

Discover the Citywide Digital Library on SORA

Use your NYC Public School credentials to access the Citywide Digital Library(Open external link) on Sora.

The Citywide Digital Library(Open external link) provides the quickest and easiest way to read digital books. NYC students can log in using their school credentials and instantly access thousands of e-books and audiobooks on virtually any device in multiple languages. The Citywide Digital Library is available 24/7 – all you need to get started is an internet connection and your school login. Begin your next reading adventure with just a tap.

Once you’re set up with Sora, check out their Decoding and Phonics Collection,(Open external link) which has great titles for students who are developing their literacy skills.

Recommended Reading Lists

If you’re not sure where to start, these lists feature some of our favorite titles for students of all ages:

Summer Reading

Keep reading alive over the summer! Reading together is an important part of developing literacy skills and fostering year-long learning, and our summer reading suggestions are a great place to get started.

Additional Resources