FOR years, KIPP Reach College Preparatory in Oklahoma City has been one of Oklahoma's best schools while serving low-income students from the urban core. A new study of Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) schools nationwide shows KIPP Reach is not an anomaly.
The independent review conducted by Mathematica Policy Research found KIPP middle schools “have significant and substantial positive impacts on student achievement.” Mathematica found that attending a KIPP school for three years produced the equivalent of 11 months of additional learning growth in math “over and above what the student would have learned” elsewhere. In reading, students gained eight months of additional learning growth; in science, 14 months; and in social studies, 11 months.
Mathematica determined gains weren't the result of “teaching to the test” or of student-selection methods. The report noted, “For most identifiable characteristics, the students entering KIPP schools look much like other students in their neighborhoods: low-achieving, low-income and non-white.” The study also found results weren't skewed by driving out poor performers, noting the proportion of students who transfer before eighth grade “is identical at KIPP and non-KIPP district schools.”
Dave Levin, co-founder of KIPP, notes the schools' success is built on a foundation of data-driven accountability. Given the results, you might think other schools would emulate KIPP. Sadly, the continued opposition of some Oklahoma school administrators to basic standards — graduation requirements, third-grade reading proficiency requirements, A-F grading of schools — suggests otherwise.
At KIPP Reach, all students are tested to assess academic preparation. The results are shocking. Tracy McDaniel, principal of KIPP Reach, says 75 percent of students enter the school two and three grade levels behind in reading and math. McDaniel said this often surprises the students and their families — because the child previously received As and Bs at other schools.