Articles tagged with KIPP

KIPP’s a model, but not emblematic

column-chart-mdWhen it comes to KIPP (the Knowledge is Power Program), what’s not to like? Dedicated teachers start their days early and work late.  There are Saturday classes much of the time, as well as summer school for middle school students. All this professional drive and extra class time – exemplified by the winning motto, “Work hard. Be nice” — have helped explain KIPP’s extraordinary success with low-income students.

The problem isn’t holding KIPP up as an example. It should be applauded, and schools should explore many of the policies and practices that have made it a winner. But when KIPP is used to denigrate regular public schools and minimize the challenges they face in educating disadvantaged students — in a kind “They did it; why can’t you?” way  —  the discussion becomes hopelessly distorted and politicized.

The main criticism of this comparison is that it underestimates the degree to which KIPP draws the more motivated students and teachers into its competitive programs. Is it really accurate to equate the challenges facing KIPP’s 82 charter schools with those facing the vast majority of regular public schools serving disadvantaged students? In books like The Charter School Dust-Up: Examining the Evidence on Enrollment and Achievement, Richard Rothstein and other policy experts argue that it is not.

Naomi Dillon|June 23rd, 2010|Categories: Educational Research, School Reform, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |

KIPP’s success in one city may be curtailed by demands of teachers union

I visited one of the KIPP charter school’s in Baltimore shortly after this last school year began— though, to be accurate, the school year never really ends for KIPP students and staff. 

Short for the Knowledge is Power Program, KIPP has also become shorthand for success, in spite of operating a model most would doom to failure.

After all, much of charter schools’ power and strength over traditional public schools is its flexibility and ability to circumvent many of the mandates (straight-jackets) that control the latter’s movements.

But KIPP schools, of which there are currently close to 70 with plans to open more in the future, resemble a large school district spread over the country; some even liken it to a franchise.

So how does it continue to be successful, despite its growth? The charter school chain has been the subject of numerous studies and an article, as I mentioned above, by yours truly.  

What I found, as others have noted, is that a large part of KIPP’s performance (roughly two-third’s of KIPP’s fifth-graders outperformed their local counterparts in state reading and math tests in 2007) comes from the long hours the staff and students put in.

Nationally, the average school day is 6.5 hours, with 180 days in a typical school year. In contrast, an average day at a KIPP school extends to nine hours or longer, with twice monthly Saturday sessions and only two months off during summer.

Naomi Dillon|July 6th, 2009|Categories: Student Achievement, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |
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