The need for school reform and improvement of the quality of instruction was not focused solely on the critical situation confronted by Hispanic students attending New York City schools.
The school system’s failure to provide meaningful education to many other groups of students became apparent, as each other group’s academic achievement was evaluated. The need to identify ways of improving the quality of instruction became a statewide priority.
The emerging literature on instructional effective schools provided new ideas to explain why some schools could be considered instructional effective and others could not. Criteria for instructional effectiveness were identified and used in the evaluation of school academic performance.
The New York State Department of Education developed a school improvement plan in October 1985 for 393 schools that, according to established criteria, were failing academically in New York City. The New York City Board of Education, reacting to the State Education Department initiative, decided to expand the school improvement program to all of the city schools, on a voluntary basis.
A plan of school improvement was officially launched in 1986 at all levels of instruction in New York City. This plan targeted more than 1,000 schools. Planning teams were organized and implemented in every school participating in the improvement program. The teams were responsible for identifying and developing school effectiveness characteristics in their schools, and for institutionalizing and developing policies that would keep the improvement project alive in their schools.
Special funds and training were provided along with a moderate degree of autonomy over the budget, methodologies, and personnel matters in every school. The instructional improvement plan for the public schools in New York City was conceived by the Effective Schools Consortium, an agency formed by the New York State Education Department to be responsible for monitoring and leading school improvement efforts in the state of New York