There's new research suggesting one of the city's most controversial education policies may actually have produced real benefits for students. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.

When former mayor Michael Bloomberg closed struggling schools, thousands protested. Critics accused the city of hurting the students who continued to attend the schools as they slowly closed over time and of damaging entire communities by shuttering local institutions.

But a new, long term study by researchers at NYU finds that closing schools benefited future students - those who would have attended the struggling schools but had to go elsewhere because they were closed.  

"The students who came along after the closure decision actually benefited quite prominently from the option being removed from the choices that were available to them," said James Kemple of the Research Alliance for NYC Schools at NYU.

The study included data from tens of thousands of students spanning more than a decade. It specifically focused on 29 schools the city closed between 2002 and 2008. Researchers say students who did not go to those schools because of the closures were much more likely then to pass state Regents exams and graduate.

The report also looked at students who remained in the schools as they phased out over several years and found that the closure process did not hurt those students academically. 

"The process of closing schools really had no net effect, positive or negative, over and above what those students would have done in other low performing schools," explained Kemple.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has not closed any schools since he was elected. He has instead focused on trying to improve low performing schools with a range of academic and social services. 

In response to this new study, a spokesperson for the Department of Education said, "As the Mayor and Chancellor have made clear, we must give schools aggressive supports to turnaround but we will also not hesitate to close schools that have the opportunity to improve and do not."

In a joint statement, former schools chancellors Joel Klein and Dennis Walcott said they believe this study reaffirms that their boss, Mayor Bloomberg, did the right thing and that by closing schools, he "ultimately left the city's families and school communities stronger."