Institute on Education and the Economy


Teaming Up for School Improvement in New York City:
Civic Strategies, the Board of Education, Vocational High Schools, and Unions (Working Paper No. 16, June 2001)

Katherine L. Hughes and Lawrence Neil Bailis

This report describes and analyzes the progress of an ambitious school improvement initiative in New York City's vocational high schools. In response to the need to implement new state-mandated higher academic standards for all students, the New York City Board of Education contracted with Civic Strategies, a Boston-based non-profit firm, to carry out a vocational school improvement effort for two years. In September 1998, Civic Strategies began implementing its three-step model of school improvement: school needs assessment and staff buy-in, development of school-specific improvement plans, and delivery of tailored professional development activities. This report is not so much a strict evaluation of the initiative as it is a description of the process by which Civic Strategies approaches whole-school improvement, with examples of some specific interventions and resulting changes. We review the effort from the starting date through the summer of 2000, with limited follow-up of activities through winter 2001.

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