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This initiative released three white papers and three concomitant research briefs in 2013. The third white paper and research brief were released along with the initiative’s key priorities in November 2013.

The Education Funders Research Initiative, a diverse group of 16 funders committed to supporting education reform in NYC, commissioned three independent research papers to examine education in the City during the previous decade.  The Initiative’s goal is to inform future priorities for public policies and private philanthropy that build on what is working in New York City to better prepare all students for college and 21st-century careers.  EdFunders selected a team of researchers, unaligned with a particular reform ideology, all based at highly regarded institutions of higher education. The third paper in our series, written by The Center for New York City Affairs, brings together this research and proposes a set of priorities that will support continued progress in New York City schools. These priorities, presented at a Forum on November 21st, are intended to focus the public, education funders, education support organizations and government officials on key issues critical to making continued progress in the coming years.  

The research commissioned by this Initiative points to these six priority areas for the new leadership of the Department of Education to build on current successful approaches and address long-term racial and socio-economic achievement gaps among students.


  • Take action to dramatically improve literacy in the early grades, so more students are prepared for high school. This should include intensive interventions for struggling readers, as well as expanded early education, full-day pre-kindergarten, and targeted investments in community-based supports for low-income families and black and Latino students, who have the lowest rates of academic success and reading proficiency.

Common Core

  • Use the newly adopted Common Core standards to promote college readiness, by investing greater attention and resources into the teaching of reading, writing, research, analysis, problem solving and other academic behaviors, as well as social and emotional skills to prepare students for rigorous coursework before they graduate.

College and Career Planning

  • Concentrate more resources, either directly or through partnerships with community based organizations, in early and ongoing support for college and career guidance especially for the majority of young people who don’t have this support in their own families.


  • Ensure a strong accountability system that uses a wider range of performance measures, making it more informative for and responsive to the needs of school leaders, school staff and families. 

School Leadership

  • Retain principals’ important ability to control hiring, budgets and curriculum, but establish a clear chain of command that provides supervision and also appropriate support by superintendents and/or network leaders.

Systemic Support

  • Strengthen traditional zoned neighborhood schools and develop structures to connect all schools—neighborhood, magnet and charters alike—within given geographic areas or networks.