Dear Educators,

I am thrilled to know theImprovement Science Handbook is in your hands.

That is because our school system’s ability to learn, grow, and improve to better serve our 1.1 million students is also in your hands. By working together, we can do the hard work necessary to ensure that all of our classrooms are wonderful places in which our young people will learn and thrive.

Every single period, day, or week of the year is a rich opportunity to examine what works—and, just as important, what doesn’t work—in our classrooms and our schools. Improvement science can help us to discern levers for improvement, dig into root causes, and engage in the kind of iterative thinking and learning that allows us to make smarter and much more informed choices about the direction of our work. In so doing, we learn from mistakes, become more efficient, and track everything we discover along the way so our colleagues can learn from us.

Think of it this way: instead of jumping to unproven “solutions,” as we often do in our profession, improvement science gives us the tools necessary to embrace good questions. As educators, we know that questions lead to understanding; ultimately, questions are what will lead us to experiment, to make changes, and to find ways to improve. When I was principal at the High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology, I learned early on that making classroom improvements required a true partnership among staff and the larger school community. Any change we implemented was more successful when we committed to an investigation—as a community—and incorporated as many voices as possible to that query. Positive change happened when we came together to embrace questions, not when I (or anyone else) dictated solutions.

As you explore improvement science, I ask you to remember that educators across the city must rely on each other to grow. You are our school system’s greatest resource; it is our ability to work together, our desire to keep learning that will make the New York City Department of Education the best school system it can possibly be for our students. We are not 1,800 separate entities; we are a community of practitioners. Please continue to share your learning with other schools, because we know that sharing our challenges and successes will help all schools improve.

Thank you all for the intelligence, energy, and commitment you bring to our 1.1 million students every day of the year.


Phil Weinberg
Deputy Chief Academic Officer for Teaching and Learning