New Haven Public Schools

Renewal of the SDP Model in the New Haven Public Schools

In 1968 child psychiatrist James P. Comer, MD and several colleagues from the Yale Child Study Center developed the SDP model in two low-performing elementary schools in New Haven. In School Power: Implications of an Intervention Project, Dr. Comer chronicled the transformation of challenging relationships into a positive school culture that resulted in a steady and dramatic rise in student achievement and pro-social behavior.

Since its inception forty-three years ago, the model has been implemented in over a thousand schools in more than fifty school districts across the country. During that time, emphasis on the SDP has waxed and waned in New Haven, with elements being implemented with varying degrees of fidelity in most schools. In addition, the SDP's Essentials of Literacy reading program, piloted at Davis Street 21st Arts and Academics Interdistrict Magnet School in 1996, was successfully implemented for a number of years at Davis, Columbus, Jepson, Nathan Hale, and Vincent Mauro schools.

During the 2006-07 academic year, New Haven school officials, particularly the Superintendent of Schools Dr. Reginald Mayo, expressed a strong interest in faithful implementation of the model in selected schools with the intent of adding schools over the next few years.

The need for establishing effectively functioning governance and management teams and student and staff support teams, coupled with some teachers' expressed interest to more effectively manage their classrooms with a focus on child development principles and practices, served as the impetus for this renewal effort. Additionally, focus group interviews at selected schools surfaced the need for increased parent involvement and better integration and cohesion of programs and services within and across the schools.

Renewal Schools

In the spring of the 2006-2007 school year, the following schools began the initial phase of the renewal process with a contextual analysis. Full implementation of the model started in these schools at the beginning of the 2007-2008 academic year.

Sheridan and Mauro merged at the beginning of the 2009-10 school year and became Mauro-Sheridan Interdistrict Magnet School for Science, Technology and Communications.

The following schools began the process in the 2008-2009 academic year:

"Parent Leader Reaps 95% Turnout," New Haven Independent

The following schools were included in the renewal effort for the for the 2009-2010 academic year:

East Rock Global Magnet School began implementation of the Comer Process in the 2010-11 school year, and Augusta Lewis Troup during the 2011-12 school year.

2009 Achievement Results for the SDP/New Haven K-8 Renewal Schools

Numerous internal and external evaluations have demonstrated the relationship between level of implementation of the model and its impact on behavior and academic achievement. An important objective of the renewal effort, therefore, is to help the schools increase the capacity of all their stakeholders, including students and parents, to implement the model faithfully at high levels in every area of school functioning.

Results from the most recent Connecticut Mastery Tests (CMT) have revealed that several of these schools are among the highest performing in the district, in some cases outperforming the State of Connecticut.


The New Haven Independent is checking in on Davis Street Arts and Academics Interdistrict Magnet School throughout the 2009-10 school year for “a closer look at what it does right….Davis Street has already enjoyed some of the successes the system hopes to replicate.”

Davis Street was prominently featured in the article "Pathways to Enlightenment," in the Spring 2010 issue of the University of Michigan School of Public Health magazine. Dr. Comer received his MPH from UM SPH in 1964.

The New Haven Independent has also written about other New Haven Comer Schools: