In 2014 newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that instead of closing “troubled schools” and simply reshuffling the deck, New York City would invest in a “Renewal” program to turn the schools around and benefit their students. Ninety-four schools were enlisted based on low four-year graduation rates and poor test scores for middle and elementary schools. Renewal schools received additional funds, students an extra hour of instruction each day, and teachers extra professional training. The schools also offered students summer enrichment programs to support learning.
In October 2018 de Blasio did an about-face and announced that the Renewal program was being phased out as too costly, about $775 million over four years, with at best only incremental improvement in student performance.
But de Blasio probably acted too fast and with incomplete data. A new study just released by Columbia University shows that at least in some cases the Renewal program was surprisingly successful. Researchers concluded that the Strategic Inquiry program implemented in some of the Renewal high schools was able to help more troubled city students get on track to graduate.