Teachers, pupils and parents could be asked to sign a "contract" under ideas being considered by Jack McConnell.
Jack McConnell said Scottish schools could learn from KIPP Academy
During a visit to a school in New York's Bronx area, the first minister expressed interest in its 'Knowledge is Power Programme'.
Mr McConnell said written agreements, which involved making commitments to school life, would help engage parents and motivate pupils.
He said he was eager for Scottish schools to learn more about the system.
The so-called contract signed by the 250 pupils, their parents and 17 teachers at the KIPP Academy in the Bronx commits them to work to their full potential and attend school every day.
Mr McConnell said Scottish schools could learn a lot from certain aspects of the system, which helps disadvantaged young people to reach their full potential by aiming for top college and university places.
The majority of the pupils at KIPP Academy perform at or above average in maths and reading.
Most go on to win scholarships to some of the best private high schools and colleges in New York.
Mr McConnell said he was also keen to learn more about how the school kept in touch with its pupils after they left.
"The school is seen as a stepping stone to greater success," he said.
"But it doesn't just leave the teenagers to get on with it by themselves.
"In Scotland there are thousands of youngsters who end up at the age of 16 not in employment, education or have no training.
"By following through after they leave school they have someone to turn to if they can't rely on family and friends."