In New York City, a sweeping industry of over 100 intermediary organizations and support providers has emerged to help public schools improve K-3 reading outcomes, according to a new report from the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools & Teaching (NCREST) at Teachers College. The working paper and policy brief, released last month, provide the results of a project designed to document the role of external support providers and their impact on grade-level reading outcomes in New York City.

The working paper from NCREST Co-director Thomas Hatch, Professor of Education, and NCREST colleagues Meesuk Ahn, Daniel Ferguson, and Alyson Rumberger, finds that, collectively, these programs have the goals, services, and personnel that could help improve reading outcomes, although a limited number of programs have publicly available evaluations demonstrating effectiveness.

Thomas Hatch, NCREST Co-Director and Professor of Education

MAPPING COLLABORATION Thomas Hatch, NCREST Co-Director and Professor of Education, looked at relationships between different reading programs.

The research team mapped the relationships among a sample of these programs in 2016-17, including “the sources they rely on to support their work, and the New York City schools with which they partner.” This was done to measure “the extent to which programs are in a position to increase their collective impact through coordination and collaboration.”

The programs showed substantial reach across New York City public schools. A sample of 26 programs were working with 161 elementary schools, comprising 16 percent of all elementary schools in New York City (including 28 percent of the elementary schools in the Bronx and 26 percent of the elementary schools in Manhattan).

At the same time, while the programs have the connections to share resources and expertise with a large percentage of elementary schools, many are working in isolation from one another. Furthermore, these programs are informed by a wide range of sources of funding and expertise that are themselves likely to be only loosely connected.

The NCREST researchers conclude that “explicit strategies will need to be developed to support greater coherence in the sector and to increase the effectiveness of the sector overall.”

The working paper, “Mapping the Reading Improvement Sector in New York City,” and the policy brief, “The Role of External Support Providers in Improving K-3 Reading Outcomes,” were released by the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE) at the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition to the Policy Brief and Working Paper, CPRE released a podcast interview with Professor Hatch speaking about the project.

CPRE brings together education experts from renowned research institutions to contribute new knowledge that informs PK-20 education policy and practice. It was founded in 1985 by CPRE Chair Susan H. Fuhrman, former President of Teachers College. In addition to Teachers College, the consortium’s institutional members are the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The research described in the report was supported by grants from the Brooke Astor Fund for New York City Education in the New York Community Trust.