Twenty-one struggling schools have been added to the state’s “partnership” program, including three charter schools in Detroit.

The program identifies schools that require extra help to improve their performance or they face consequences, including possible closure or reorganized staff. Milestones are set at 18 and 36 months to meet major goals, but decisions about the schools’ futures remain in control of the districts, local school boards and administrations.

It’s the third time the state has formed partnership agreements to help improve achievement levels at the academically struggling schools. Friday’s announcement means 53 Detroit schools are in agreements with the state.

The three charter schools added to the list are Detroit Delta Prep Academy for Social Justice, the Detroit Leadership Academy and the Detroit Public Safety Academy. School officials couldn’t be reached for comment Friday when schools were closed for the holiday.

“This is an effort to be positive, work toward solutions and to turn things around rather than be punitive, Bill DiSessa, a state spokesman, said Friday. “We will identify a liaison in our department, go to meetings, monitor progress and report back to us. The districts come up with their own school plans and we will work together.”

It’s a shift in attitude from last year when 38 schools across Michigan were told they were in danger of being shuttered after landing in the bottom five percent of state rankings for three years in a row.

Plans to close those schools were abandoned in the face of intense political opposition. Instead, the 35 schools that remained open entered into “partnership agreements” with the state that require them to improve. (The one charter school on the list was closed by its authorizer, and three small high schools inside Osborn High School were turned into one.) Read Detroit’s agreement here.

While the partnership agreements have kept open schools that had been threatened with closure, state officials still have the power to shutter these schools. When a new governor takes office in January, they could find themselves in danger again.