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Struggling Schools Improve on Test Scores

The state released its annual standardized test scores on Tuesday, bringing measured good news for the city’s most struggling schools. They improved more on the math and reading tests than schools citywide.

But Mayor Bill de Blasio made clear that for some the progress was not sufficient to keep them from the chopping block.

The schools, which are part of Mr. de Blasio’s Renewal program, received extra support from the Education Department in the form of teacher development, a longer school day and special services for students and their families.

At the 57 elementary and middle schools in the city’s $582 million Renewal program, the percentage of children who passed the reading tests increased by 3.2 points from last year; the percentage passing the math tests increased by 1.5 points. Citywide, reading proficiency increased by 2.6 percentage points and math proficiency grew by 1.3 points.

Over all, the proficiency rate on the reading tests increased at 47 of the 57 Renewal schools, while math proficiency increased at 34 of them. 

At a celebratory news conference at Tweed Courthouse, the headquarters of the Education Department, Mr. de Blasio said of the Renewal schools, “There are going to be some, when we go through the whole process — I’m certain some will be slated to close.”

The Renewal schools still lag behind the city in their passing rates: just 15.9 percent of their students passed the reading tests, while 9.4 percent scored as proficient in math; citywide, 40.6 percent of students passed the reading tests, and 37.8 percent of students passed the math tests.

Mr. de Blasio announced the Renewal program in November 2014, saying that the city would give the schools three years to improve.

He said that the Education Department would make final decisions in November about which schools would be closed or merged with other schools.

He suggested that some schools that had made significant improvement would be taken out of the Renewal program entirely, while others would receive continued help. Carmen Fariña, the New York City schools chancellor, said that she planned to put new principals in some Renewal schools in September.

At the news conference, Mr. de Blasio, who is up for re-election in November, sat behind a sign that read “Higher Test Scores in Every Borough.” He boasted of “four straight years” of improved test scores in city schools. But he did not address, once again, the significant changes to the tests last year: They were shorter and were not timed, making comparisons with previous years’ scores impossible.

And, in a move that suggested his effort to reach a rapprochement with charter schools, the mayor recognized principals of both traditional public and charter schools who had gathered for the announcement.