Sunday, May 1, 2011

KIPP Schools: A Reform Triumph, or Disappointment?

This from Time:

A new report ... will add to the debate about the Knowledge Is Power Program or KIPP schools — a highly influential non-profit network of public schools serving low-income students. The study is important because it's the first large-scale look at the college completion rate for students in schools at the leading edge of today's reform efforts. The results show that while KIPP graduates—who are 95 percent African-American and Latino and overwhelmingly low-income—far outpace the national averages for similar students, they also fall short of the network's own goals: 33 percent of students who completed a KIPP middle school at least 10 years ago have a bachelor's degree today. Among similar students nationwide, just 8 percent have graduated college.

The study has implications for the growing array of schools with missions and methods similar to KIPP because it begs the question: Is 33 percent an enormous achievement given the challenging environments that KIPP operates in? Or, conversely, should KIPP be achieving better results given the intensive support KIPP students receive?...

Kati Haycock, President of the Education Trust, a national advocacy group for low-income students says she, "can't help but be impressed by KIPP's focus on college and its willingness to hold itself to public account for the college graduation rates of its graduates. At best, most K-12 folks report how many of their graduates entered college, but many don't want even to be accountable for that." ...

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