KIPP works harder

Today is opening day for KIPP Heartwood Academy, a middle school in East San Jose.

In the Washington Post, Jay Mathews describes how novice teachers Mike Feinberg and David Levin founded KIPP, a national network of charters targeting very disadvantaged minority communities. The results are impressive.

One hundred percent of eighth-graders at KIPP Academy Houston passed the Texas state tests last year. KIPP Academy New York ranks in the top 10 percent of all New York city schools. Students at KIPP schools opened since 2001 averaged score increases last year of 39 percent in mathematics and 20 percent in reading. About 80 percent of KIPP students in 15 states and the District have family incomes low enough to qualify for federal lunch subsidies, and they are all of the hormone-addled middle school age that makes even teachers at wealthy private schools tremble. (KIPP is starting an elementary and a high school in Houston this year.)

Feinberg and Levin say they want discipline, attention and steady, measurable progress that supplants the distractions of their students’ homes and neighborhoods.

KIPP students go to school for as much as 9 1/2-hours a day, and come in regularly on Saturdays. They get a lot more time to learn. Discipline is enforced consistently so distractions are minimized. Despite paying teachers more to work longer hours, KIPP spends only about 13 percent more than the national average. “In some expensive cities like New York, however, KIPP is still spending less per student than regular public schools are.”

About Joanne


  1. Mike in Texas says:

    I found an interesting CNN article about this school. I found it interesting b/c they discuss the school’s use of music in learning. Unfortunately, my school has completely cut music due to “budget constraints”, although we have added another administrator.

    How do you make the little sad face on here?

  2. There are now 40 KIPP Academies open, including one in my hometown of Asheville, NC. I encourage anyone interested in education of children who are often “left behind” to visit a KIPP school. In my experience, students at these schools are learning to work hard and be disciplined, a lesson that many suburban schools need to implement as well.

  3. Richard Nieporent says:

    Great article Joanne. I guess you don’t waste all your time on this website. It appears that there is still hope for the school system if we can just get the NEA to stop attacking the charter schools.

    By the way there is either a mistake or a misrepresentation in the Washingtonpost Article.

    Ninety-six percent of his students passed either the math or reading test, and 70 percent passed both.

    The impression is that the students took both exams and only 70% passed both, which of course is not true. Assuming the same population took both tests, you can’t have 96% pass each test and only 70% pass both. The minimum number is of course 92%.

    The only way to get a value of 70% is if some students didn’t take both exams. For example, if out of a population of 100 students, numbers 1 – 88 took the math test and numbers 13 to 100 took the reading test, then it would be possible for only 70% to have passed both, but that would be because 24% of the students only took one of the two exams and an additional 6% of the students who took both exams (numbers 13 to 88) passed one but not the other.

  4. Richard: 96% passed either of the two tests, not each of the two tests.

    If (for example) 96% pass reading, and (estimating, too lazy to try real math just before lunch) 72% pass math, you can get a 70% pass-both rate, no?

    Joanne: I assume you meant to say “go to school for as much as 9 1/2 hours a day during the week.

    Because a 9 1/2 hour school week is pretty lax.

  5. I’ll fix it, Sigivald.

  6. Richard Nieporent says:


    You are right. I misread the sentence.

  7. i substituted at a KIPP school last may, this article doesn’t even begin to hint at the fantastic learning environment that these schools create. after working in over half a dozen public schools, i have to say that no single staff has impressed me so much as the folks over at KIPP College Prep in Austin, TX