The city will overhaul the way it teaches reading, requiring schools to use one of three specific curriculum options that focus on the science of reading, in an effort to boost literacy rates in a city where half of students are not proficient in reading.

It’s a dramatic shift for the city’s public school system, which had previously allowed each of its schools to choose their own curriculum.

For months, Mayor Eric Adams and Schools Chancellor David Banks have argued that the approach many schools had adopted, known as balanced literacy, which encourages guessing, using context and memorization, was failing students, particularly those with dyslexia or other language-based learning disabilities.

The new curriculum options are based in what's often called the science of reading, or structured literacy, with an emphasis on phonics, with students sounding out syllables and bridging them together to form words and build vocabulary.

The new initiative will be dubbed “New York City Reads,” and rolled out over the course of two years. The city will spend $35 million on training and coaching for teachers to help implement the curricula, and officials promised every educator who uses the curricula will receive “intensive, high-quality training prior to the start of the year.”

The plan will begin this fall in 15 of the city’s community school districts, where each superintendent will choose one of three curriculum options, which will then be implemented in every school in their district.

The city’s remaining 17 districts will implement the new curriculum beginning in September 2024.