Photo: Andrea Piacquadio

A pilot program for NYC middle schools called The Network for School Improvement (NSI) was designed to focus on college and career readiness for Black and Latino students and students who are experiencing poverty. Run through Teaching Matters, the program is funded by the Gates Foundation and is currently in its third year. It serves a network of 16 schools across the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

The program is broken down into three components:

ELA teacher support: helps teachers implement a culturally responsive curriculum and test ideas to improve student outcomes.

Leadership: Considers equity as it applies to eighth grade ELA and helps educators evaluate their plans for school improvement as well as measure progress.

Attendance: identifies and addresses barriers to attendance. 
Student identity is a big focus in NSI. They’ve implemented a concept they call Identity Questions, where ELA teachers make it a point to connect identity in their lessons. For example, teachers can do something as simple as integrate a question that connects to student identity in the “do now” section of a lesson. Learn more about Teaching Matters and the NSI pilot.

Nicole Perrino is the founder of, a hyperlocal website for Bronx families where she use her influence to celebrate the beauty that the Bronx has to offer. In addition to her role at Bronxmama,...

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