In 2008 with Fordham as its authorizer, Ohio's first and only KIPP School moved into ?Linden Park, one of Columbus' poorest neighborhoods. The school had high hopes of providing area fifth and sixth graders with an excellent education.? However, the road to excellence has been anything but instantaneous, as two recent?Columbus Dispatch articles recently?pointed out.
When KIPP first opened only 70 students were enrolled, the first principal didn't finish out the year, and passing rates in reading and math were dismal and equivalent to an F rating.? Fast-forward to the 2009-2010 school year and the story has improved dramatically.? There are now 215 students enrolled at KIPP and they are growing academically faster than any other Linden-area Columbus Public School.? Last year KIPP had higher academic growth than any of its neighboring schools, a tremendous improvement to the year before when they had the lowest growth rate.? In 2008-2009, 29 percent of KIPP's fifth graders were proficient in math; as sixth graders in 2009-10, were 62 percent proficient. While 62 percent proficient is still well below the state goal of 75 percent, this represents a doubling of achievement and is a step in the right direction for KIPP.
Much of the improvement in KIPP's students can be accredited to the elements of its notorious school culture: a strict and rigorous academic model that includes longer schools days and clear expectations.? In addition to the cultural identity of KIPP, perhaps one of the strongest, if not the most important assets to the schools are the numerous Teach For America graduates present in the building. As the?Dispatch points out, Teach For America grads are one of the main reasons that KIPP schools have been so successful.
However, a major hurdle for TFA grads in Ohio is that they are unable to get past strict licensure requirements, forcing them in many cases to be classified as long-term substitutes. ?In order to ensure the success of high-performing charter schools like KIPP and others, the most talented and brightest individuals are needed. The?Dispatch, and rightly so, calls for lawmakers in the upcoming legislative session to seriously consider ways to bring TFA to the state.