Starting in the 2008-2009 school year, kindergarten students in ten (10) New York City public schools began learning to read with the Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) program, a comprehensive literacy program emphasizing phonics, content knowledge, and language development across many subjects, while students in ten demographically similar control schools received more traditional reading instruction. The formal pilot program continued for three years, monitored by the NYC Department of Education’s Research and Policy Support Group, which followed a cohort of New York City students from kindergarten through second grade.
For three years, a pilot program tracked the reading ability of approximately 1,000 students at 20 New York City schools, following them from kindergarten through second grade. Half of the schools adopted a curriculum designed by the education theorist E. D. Hirsch Jr.’s Core Knowledge Foundation. The other 10 used a variety of methods, but most fell under the definition of “balanced literacy,” an approach that was spread citywide by former Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, beginning in 2003.
According to the NY Times:
The study found that second graders who were taught to read using the Core Knowledge program scored significantly higher on reading comprehension tests than did those in the comparison schools.
It also tested children on their social studies and science knowledge, and again found that the Core Knowledge pupils came out ahead.