THE BRONX - The Department of Education unveiled a new reading pilot program Monday that aims to increase student achievement by getting to kids at a younger age.

The kindergarten program was conceived and developed by educator Dr. E. D. Hirsch Jr. The program emphasizes phonics and includes more non-fiction.

?They'd get to stay on a topic for quite a long time and particularly a child who didn't know much about a topic, after you're taught a few classes, has got that background,? Hirsch says.

Hirsch says the focus on non-fiction gives students a strong foundation with which to succeed in later grades. The three-year program will follow about 1,000 kindergartners onto first and second grades.

Schools Chancellor Joel Klein says students? progress will be measured against a control group.

P.S. 50, P.S. 102 and P.S. 30 in the Bronx as well as P.S. 308 and P.S. 214 in Brooklyn are involved.