News and Speeches

Chancellor Klein Launches NYC Innovation Zone


Schools Expand on Traditional Learning Models, Further Personalize Instruction and Give Teachers New Tools 

iZone Will Grow from 10 to 81 Schools, Creating New Models for Districts Nationwide

Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced the launch of the New York City Innovation Zone (iZone), a group of schools with innovative, cutting-edge approaches to personalizing instruction for every child. In all, 81 public schools will pilot new classroom models and instructional technologies that will accelerate learning and transform how content is taught. The iZone schools will challenge longstanding assumptions about education, departing from a traditional classroom model by providing teachers with new tools to individualize learning for every child.

Schools in the iZone will adopt new approaches to instruction, using online courses, adaptive technologies, and real-time data to help teachers create more targeted lessons. They will make better use of time, allowing for more flexible approaches to scheduling that extend learning throughout the school day and year. And a smaller number of schools will modify teacher roles, increasing the flexibility of staffing.

“Our iZone schools will innovate a model for educating children that has remained largely unchanged for more than a hundred years,” Chancellor Klein said. “We are giving teachers new tools that allow them to customize education more thoughtfully for every child, continuing a tradition of innovation in New York City public schools.”

“To be effective, our public schools need to update old practices and tools” Deputy Chancellor for Strategy and Innovation John White said. “With innovations involving time in school, teachers, and technology, we move closer to meeting the needs of all our students.”

“A new generation of learning tools enables us to think differently about instruction, time, progress, and staffing,” said Tom Vander Ark of Revolution Learning. “Some of the most innovative new school models in the world are emerging in New York City. The iZone will bring new practices and strategies to scale in a collaborative knowledge sharing network.”

In January, the Department of Education requested applications for schools to participate in the 2010-11 launch of the iZone, which began as a pilot program with 10 schools last year. Schools recommended by network leaders applied to participate in the iZone and 81 were selected through a process that included interviews and site visits.

Roughly half of iZone schools will pilot a “Virtual School” model, with some using online instruction for credit recovery and Advanced Placement courses, and others adopting a blended model that integrates online education with face-to-face learning. Another six schools will introduce “Time and Staffing” innovations, developing nimbler approaches to scheduling and staffing that increase learning time and foster greater teacher collaboration. Finally, 35 elementary schools will use “Adaptive Learning Technologies” that tailor instruction to each student’s knowledge and interests. These technologies provide real-time reports on student progress so that teachers focus their efforts on lessons students find most challenging.

The iZone is another example of how New York City is among the nation’s leading incubators of innovation in education. Last September, Chancellor Klein announced the creation of Quest to Learn, which uses computer gaming technology to frame learning for students in grades six through twelve. In March, the Department of Education opened as an afterschool program the “School of One”—a model that combines traditional teaching with cutting-edge instructional software, flexible classroom grouping and varying teacher assignments. School of One will expand to be part of the school day in three schools next fall.

The Innovation Zone is supported by a combination of local capital funds, stimulus funds, generous grants to The Fund for Public Schools from Cisco Global Education and the Ford Foundation, and research support from Harvard’s EdLabs.

Please visit for more information on the innovations, links to schools, and videos about new tools for teachers offered in the iZone.