Instructional Leadership Framework

Building System-Wide Coherence to Accelerate Learning for Every Student

Purpose and Implementation

In New York City, we are committed to deepening and expanding our shared commitment to equity and excellence to ensure that every student will be ready for the next stage of their education, and ultimately, their career and their future as empowered agents of change in their communities and world. The knowledge and skills required for students to thrive in the 21st century continue to rapidly change. The exponential growth of literacy demands is closely connected to our changing economy, labor market, and technological advancements.

We need students to be critical thinkers, capable of working with new information in order to solve unstructured problems, many of which we cannot yet anticipate. We must also acknowledge the lack of access and opportunity for historically underserved students.

As a system, our instructional priorities and practices need to shift to meet these changing demands with every student in mind.

The New York City Department of Education Framework for Great Schools represents what great schools must have. With the Instructional Leadership Framework, we are continuing to deepen this commitment – namely: rigorous instruction, collaborative teachers, effective leadership, and a clear focus on student achievement.

The Instructional Leadership Framework is a system-wide approach to:

  • Ensure that every school has the strategy and tools to continuously improve instruction, and provide our students with the rigorous learning experiences they all deserve, and
  • Take stock to identify what instruction every student is receiving, how they’re receiving it, why they’re receiving it, and how it can be improved.

The Instructional Leadership Framework combines research-based practices outlined in Teaching Advanced Literacy Skills and the tenets of Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education. We know that successful schools drive improvement through forming and empowering teams dedicated solely to instruction and leading instructional improvements. Though we know that sometimes these teams take on different names, for the purpose of this approach, we’ll refer to these teams as Instructional Leadership Teams (ILTs). An ILT is driven by the belief that collective instructional leadership and strengthening teacher practice has the greatest impact on student learning.

The Instructional Leadership Framework supports leaders in planning, organizing, and streamlining their schools’ work in order to ensure that every student in NYC experiences instruction that supports them in developing advanced literacy skills in learning environments that affirm students’ strengths and their racial and cultural identities, while developing students’ abilities to connect across cultures and think critically.


Supporting diverse learners means providing strong core instruction. To get there, we need to make sure every student in every classroom is engaging with rich and inclusive curriculum materials and with appropriate assessments so that we understand and meet their needs. This by no means is an easy task, yet it is essential that we undertake this work in order to raise academic achievement for every student. This is the critical work at the center of the Instructional Leadership Framework.

As we engage students in learning through responsive and rigorous teaching, we must continue to shine light on two recurring challenges throughout our City: 1) inconsistent instructional opportunities to advance learning for every student and 2) a feeling of competing or disconnected priorities for the adults in the system.

Instructional Priority Areas

To tackle the first challenge, the Instructional Leadership Framework establishes three priorities, rooted in the research-based practices of Advanced Literacy and Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education:

No single priority can be achieved without creating a supportive environment and setting rigorous expectations for every student.

The Instructional Priority Areas are

  1. Strengthen Core Instruction
  2. Know Every Student Well
  3. Use Shared and Inclusive Curriculum
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To address the challenge of competing priorities, we are asking every school to select one priority as an entry point into the Instructional Leadership Framework beginning in SY 2019-20.

Since all three priorities are deeply connected to one another and most impactful when aligned, we must eventually engage fully in all three to achieve higher academic outcomes for every student. Growth in any of these instructional priority areas will require that teams of teachers and leaders come together to take stock of current practices and make decisions to develop and modify their instructional practices. This is why adult professional learning is considered a driving force for ensuring these changes take place. Students learn and grow when teachers and leaders develop. The work of the Instructional Leadership Framework requires strategic planning and strong instructional decision-making – guided by teams of educators and leaders – to ensure that practices align with what is needed to strengthen the learning of every student and adult.

An implementation plan is outlined below for instructional teams to use as guidance for engaging in the work. All teams should start by building awareness and knowledge around the Instructional Leadership Framework and how it connects to other work already underway in schools. Implementing iterative learning cycles by making adjustments in structures, processes, and outputs along the way is a critical part of being reflective practitioners seeking to continuously improve and achieve outcomes to best serve our students.

Timeline and School-Level Implementation Plan

This work will take coherent and sustained focus on instructional improvement in every school. Some schools began implementation earlier this year via participation in Advanced Literacy Institutes PD series. While the journey each school will take is unique, the timeline below will serve as system-wide guidance as we engage citywide in the execution of the Instructional Leadership Framework.

View the Instructional Leadership Framework Overview to see the timeline, also provided below:

Implementation Period:


By June 2019

Purpose: To build awareness across multiple stakeholders about the ILF and possible implications and next steps for schools.

Action: Begin to engage in understanding the purpose of the Instructional Leadership Framework.

Team Building

By June 2019

Purpose: To build or repurpose a strategic team within a school (i.e. with teachers and leaders), with multiple perspectives and sets of expertise, who will lead the planning, implementation and improvement of the ILF work across the school.

Action: Examine current shared leadership structures and identify an existing or new Instructional Leadership Team (ILT) responsible for enacting the ILF work.

Knowledge Building

By October 2019

Purpose: To develop a shared understanding of the work of advancing literacies in culturally responsive ways.

Action: As an ILT, engage in the study of the ILF Guide in order to develop shared understanding of the purpose of the Instructional Priorities.

Gap Analysis

By October 2019

Purpose: To consider the ways students are currently served by your school’s assessment and instruction.

Action: Take stock of current instructional strengths, needs, and capacity.

Identify Instructional Priority Area & Develop Implementation Plan

By October 2019

Purpose: To decide on an instructional priority to focus on for the remainder of the year, align adult PL and development to that instructional priority, set improvement goals to guide your process across the year.

Action: Identify Instructional Priority Area of focus for the school year (Strengthen Core Instruction; Know Every Student Well; Use Shared and Inclusive Curriculum). Develop Implementation Plan for SY2019-20 based on current capacity.



School Year 19-20 and beyond (iterative cycles)

Purpose: Engage in continued cycles of learning focused on adjusting teacher practice to positively impact student outcomes.

Action: Implement iterative learning cycles, making adjustments in structures, processes, and outputs along the way towards identified outcomes.

Implementation resources will be launched in June 2019.

Instructional Leadership Framework Professional Development

As we embark on a system-wide approach, it is important that we have a shared understanding of the key principles informing the Instructional Leadership Framework.

The NYCDOE has created a webinar series aimed at supporting collective understanding across the NYCDOE, as well as to help schools as they engage in initial stages of the implementation timeline, specifically: awareness, team building, knowledge building and identifying an Instructional Priority Area.

This webinar series is intended for school leaders and their Instructional Leadership Teams. Teams can use the information presented in this webinar series to determine an instructional priority to select for the 2019-2020 school year.

View: ILF Professional Learning




Fullan, M., & Pinchot, M. (2018). The Fast Track to Sustainable Turnaround. Education Leadership, 75(6), 48-54.

Lesaux, N. K., Galloway, E. P., & Marietta, S. H. (2016). Teaching advanced literacy skills: A guide for leaders in linguistically diverse schools. New York: Guilford Press.

New York State Education Department. (2019). Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework. Retrieved from programs/bilingual-ed/1.16.19-cr-s-framework_a.pdf

Robinson, V. M. (2011). Student-centered leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.