State Releases Grants for City High Schools Undergoing Improvement

It's official. New York State has given New York City the $19.8 million it received in federal school improvement grants for 11 persistently low achieving high schools.

School improvement grants are part of the Obama Administration's plan for raising high school graduation rates. They're worth up to $2 million annually and can be renewed for up to three years if the schools hit certain benchmarks. That's a significant amount of money at a time when many schools are cutting their budgets.

The 11 New York City schools receiving the grants were selected over the summer -- giving them just a few months to plan how to spend the new money. They're each undergoing a "transformation" strategy, which is the least intensive form of federally-funded intervention. Transformation schools either kept their principals (if they hadn't been there a long time), replaced their principals, or were allowed to keep them in advisory roles. The money is intended for improving instructional strategies and hiring more experienced teachers to help lead the way.

The city could have chosen much more drastic measures in exchange for the federal grants, such as phasing out the schools and replacing them with new ones, or replacing up to half their teachers. By opting for the least intensive form of turnaround, the city signaled these 11 schools were on the right track.

In addition to these 11, there are 23 more schools that the state has also identified as "persistently lowest achieving" (most of which are on a larger list of 47 schools that could potentially be phased-out). The Department of Education says it's now making decisions on which of the federal models is the best fit for each school, meaning it could opt to keep them open with various interventions. The list of schools eligible for grants could grow even longer after the state releases an updated list of persistently lowest achieving schools in the coming weeks.


Unity Center for Urban Technologies



Chelsea Career and Technical Education HS



Bread & Roses Integrated Arts High School



Automotive High School



Brooklyn School for Global Studies



Cobble Hill School of American Studies


Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School



William E. Grady CTE HS



Queens Vocational and Technical HS



Flushing High School



Long Island City High School



School Improvement Capacity (central admin, shared programs)


1st Year Total




WNYC is profiling two of the schools that received grants in our series The Big Fix.

We've already reported on the size of the grant for Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School in Manhattan ($959,246). The other school in our Big Fix series with GothamSchools is the larger, William E. Grady Career and Technical Education High School, in Brooklyn ($1,365,810).