Lessons From KIPP Charter Schools
The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) is a network of charter schools. It possibly is the most acclaimed and criticized charter network in the country. There are 125 KIPP schools in 20 states and Washington, D.C., with two in Missouri (one in Kansas City and one in Saint Louis).
Mathematica, a leading education research firm, recently released an impressive evaluation of KIPP middle schools (the Missouri schools were not included in this study). Using a rigorous gold-standard research design, the researchers explored the impact of KIPP schools on student achievement.
What they found was not surprising to me: “KIPP middle schools have positive and statistically significant impacts on student achievement across all four academic subjects examined . . .”
I have written fairly extensively about KIPP schools on the Show-Me Daily blog, in Phi Delta Kappan, and in two pieces that are forthcoming in peer-reviewed journals (Social Science Quarterly and The Rural Educator).
KIPP’s success is often chalked up to hard work. While that is certainly a large part of it, I believe there is a bit more that we can learn from KIPP schools. In the Phi Delta Kappan piece, which I penned with Bob Maranto, we wrote:
What distinguishes KIPP is not just hard work, but thoughtful work linking the daily processes of schooling to the goals of schooling, in this case, success in college. Day-to-day tactics reflect broader themes: having a clear mission and hiring staff who support the mission, building student culture to support the mission, ensuring consistency, building relationships, empowering principals to lead, and using frequent measurement of success to motivate teachers and students.
Not all schools will share the same mission as KIPP or be just like KIPP, nor should they; but every school leader can learn from KIPP and apply these lessons to their schools.