Focus on Results: An Academic Impact Analysis of the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP)

Educational Policy Institute
August 2005

Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) charter schools are famous for using cheers and chants to reinforce instruction among middle-school-age students. This report by the Educational Policy Institute, an education research group engaged by KIPP to perform the study, gives the 48 KIPP schools nationwide something else to cheer about. EPI analyzed school-level Stanford Achievement Test scores for 27 fifth-grade cohorts at 24 KIPP schools over roughly one year and found substantially greater academic gains than what is normally expected. KIPP students - who are overwhelmingly black and Hispanic, with 78 percent receiving free and reduced-price lunch - showed a mean gain of 10.1 "normal curve equivalents" in reading, 10.9 in language, and 17.4 in mathematics from the fall of 2003 to the spring of 2004. A smaller group of students who took the exam in fall 2003 and a follow-up exam in fall 2004 realized mean gains of 7.5 in reading, 9.1 in language, and 11.6 in mathematics. While KIPP hasn't "found 'the answer' to the educational woes of urban schools," say the report's authors, they are "doing something right." The report would be even stronger if EPI had access to individual student scores - a point the authors concede - and several areas require further investigation. For example, do students continue to realize significant gains in later grades? Still, the results are encouraging. The authors express it well. "The findings ... illustrate that students who are generally expected to perform poorly by the larger society ... outperformed the greatest of expectations." Three cheers for that. The report is available at http://www.educationalpolicy.org/.

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