American Institutes for Research Hosts Conference on the Children First Initiative

New York, NY – The American Institutes for Research (AIR) hosted a conference in Manhattan on November 10, 2010 that featured leading education researchers who presented the results of the New York City Education Reform Retrospective, an examination of the landmark Children First Initiative aimed at reforming New York City’s public schools. 

Joel Klein, Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, addressed the conference’s plenary session, which also included a panel discussion featuring Merryl Tisch, Chancellor, New York State Board of Regents; Leo Casey, Vice President, United Federation of Teachers; Warren  Simmons, Executive Director, Annenberg Institute for School Reform and Michael Davis, Director, Office of Accountability, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

The invitational conference highlighted the findings from a set of 11 evidence-based analyses of the core elements of New York’s Children First reforms, which were launched in 2002 and considered one of the nation’s most ambitious education reform efforts. The analyses address topics such as governance and public engagement, student outcomes and accountability, finance and human capital management, high school reform and school choice, and instructional improvement.

A panel of prominent scholars and practitioners selected the independent researchers and the topics they examined in an effort to contribute to reform efforts in New York City and nationally. Speakers presented the following papers: 

  • Leadership and Governance in New York City School Reform, presented by Paul T. Hill, University of Washington
  • Parent and Community Engagement in New York City and the Sustainability Challenge for Urban Education Reform, presented by Jeffrey R. Henig, Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Financing K-12 Education in the Bloomberg Years, 2002-2008, presented by Leanna Stiefel, New York University
  • Managing for Results at the New York City Department of Education, presented by Monica Higgins, Harvard Graduate School of Education 
  • Improving Instruction in New York City Schools: An Evolving Strategy, presented by Jennifer A. O’Day, American Institutes for Research
  • Collaborative Inquiry to Expand Student Success in New York City Schools, presented by Joan E. Talbert, Stanford University
  • Changing Contexts and the Challenge of High School Reform in New York City, presented by Leslie Santee Siskin, New York University
  • School Choice and Competition in the New York City Schools, presented by Sean P. Corcoran, New York University
  • How Students’ Views Predict Graduation Outcomes and Reveal Instructional Disparities Under Children First Reforms, presented by Ronald F. Ferguson, Harvard University
  • Recruiting, Evaluating and Retaining Teachers: The Children First Strategy to Improve New York City’s Teachers, presented by Jim Wyckoff, University of Virginia
  • New York City Education Reform Retrospective—Children First and Student Outcomes: 2003-2010, presented by James Kemple, Research Alliance for New York City Schools, New York University

The Children First initiative was announced in October 2002 in an effort to improve achievement across all schools and to address persistently low performing schools by moving innovation and effective school change throughout the system. The papers will be compiled in an edited volume entitled Education Reform in New York City: Ambitious Change in the Nation’s Most Complex School System, to be published by the Harvard Education Press in spring 2011.
The project was funded through support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; the Carnegie Corporation of New York; the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation; and the Robertson Foundation.

About AIR
Established in 1946, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral and social science research and delivers technical assistance both domestically and internationally in the areas of health, education, and workforce productivity. For more information, visit

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