Study: KIPP students learn more

Despite below-average test scores in third and fourth grade, KIPP students make substantial gains in math and reading in fifth through eighth grade, concludes a Mathematica study of 22 schools.  In half the schools in the study, KIPP students — nearly all low-income and black or Hispanic — made progress equal to an extra year of math and reading instruction, substantially reducing the achievement gap.

Compared to the public schools from which they draw students, KIPP middle schools have student bodies characterized by higher concentrations of poverty and racial minorities, but lower concentrations of special education and limited English proficiency students.

Article ToolsKIPP schools didn’t have systematically higher or lower attrition rates than other schools in the same district, the study found.  From Education Week:

“The consistency of the effects across most of the 22 schools and the magnitude of the effects are pretty striking and impressive,” said Brian P. Gill, a senior social scientist for Mathematica and an author of the study. “We do a lot of education studies, and often the effects are nonexistent or quite small.”

KIPPsters are more likely to repeat a grade, especially in fifth and sixth grade, because of KIPP’s reluctance to move students to the next level without mastery of the current grade’s subject matter.

The study compares demographically similar students in the same districts. Presumably parents who sign their children up for KIPP are more motivated and involved than average. But the study found KIPP students were scoring below the district average in elementary school, so that parental involvement hadn’t translated into success pre-KIPP.

Three KIPP schools out of the 22 studied did not show progress. The KIPP Foundation has withdrawn support for two of those schools. Since KIPP’s founding, nine of 91 schools have lost KIPP support for failure to meet standards.

The study will continue through 2014 and will expand to include 50 KIPP schools. Students who spend a year at KIPP and then return to district-run schools will be counted as KIPP students, points out Jay Mathews. If less-capable students are more likely to leave, that won’t help KIPP’s results.

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Comments

  1. Independent George says:

    Presumably parents who sign their children up for KIPP are more motivated and involved than average. But the study found KIPP students were scoring below the district average in elementary school, so that parental involvement hadn’t translated into success pre-KIPP.

    Let’s assume for the moment that the ‘creaming’ effect were real, and were 100% responsible for KIPP’s success. Would that really be so bad? Would it really be better to preserve the illusion of egalitarianism by letting the best students fail in a lousy school, than give them an opportunity to succeed elsewhere?

    I don’t believe that to be the explanation, but, honestly, I wouldn’t have a problem with it even if it were.

  2. KIPP expects teachers to work long hours including Saturdays and to be on call for homework help over the phone every evening.

    It’s not hard to believe that has something to do with their success.

  3. This just shows that parental interest and involvement does indeed make a big difference. The schools can do all they can, but without parent support, success is going to be compromised. More money should be spent on ways to engage parents in the educational process.

  4. CarolineSF says:

    It’s startling that the Mathematica researchers made no distinction between KIPP attrition and mobility at public schools. The fact is that KIPP does not replace the students who leave, which is a massive, whopping difference. Students who have “high mobility” (move a lot) tend to be more impoverished and thus more likely to be low achievers. If a high-mobility student leaves a public school, that student is likely to be replaced with an equally high-mobility student (thus a likely low achiever). If a student leaves (or “leaves,” as pushouts are generally believed to be common) a KIPP school, that student is not replaced. Thus KIPP schools end up with only a fraction of the students who started school, and those tend to be the higher achievers, as confirmed in a study by SRI International a couple of years ago. That leaves open the question of how public schools would fare if they too got rid of the least successful students and didn’t replace them, as KIPP schools do. I had the idea that Mathematica was a legitimate, credible, respectable researcher, but not so — apparently its report was tainted by the fact that KIPP paid for it.

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