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.”