A Different KIPP Story

A recent Indianapolis Star story on charter schools found that the city’s KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) charter is falling well short in its performance in regard to student testing. The story accurately pointed out that charter performance, like that of other public schools, relies on strong teachers and solid leadership.

On a national level, 22 KIPP middle schools are part of a long-range study and have been lauded for strong achievement in an interim report.

According to the Thomas B. Fordham Institute:

Though KIPP schools have been the focus of previous research, this is by far the largest and most rigorous study to date. And the results are encouraging. Using matched student achievement data from 22 middle schools that had been open since at least 2005-06, Mathematica analysts found statistically significant impacts on reading in 15 of the 22, and on math in 18. Conversely, just two schools had a significantly negative impact on reading, while one school had a significantly negative impact on math (in year 1), which actually reversed into a positive impact by year three. These positive effects are sizable, especially in math. After three years in a KIPP school, a student will have made on average 4.2 years of growth in math and 3.9 years of growth in reading.

This was true even though KIPP included in its treatment group all students who were ever enrolled in a KIPP school during the study, including those who spent just one year at KIPP and subsequently left, as well as the results for two schools that lost their KIPP affiliation during the study and subsequently closed. That means these results are probably conservative in terms of students who remained enrolled at KIPP all four years of middle school because they hold KIPP accountable for students who actually were not at KIPP for the majority of their middle school years. Though KIPP surely deserves praise for these results, it should also be applauded for subjecting itself to such a rigorous assessment. 

The 116-page report is here.