Mathematica Policy Research last week released a major research report showing that students attending KIPP middle schools make substantial additional academic growth relative to peer students who attend other public schools.

Nationwide, the KIPP network of charters consists of 125 schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia; of those, this report focused on 43 middle schools serving students in grades five through eight. The student population that participated in the study was 96 percent black or Hispanic; 83 percent qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch. 

Mathematica found that after three years, KIPP schools produced an additional eleven months of learning growth in math and eight months in reading. The report also dispels the myth that KIPP schools’ positive effects on learning are a function of “teaching to the test”.  Mathematica examined test results from both state assessments and from the nationally norm-referenced test (Terra Nova), for which teachers and students do not prepare, and found consistently positive results for both exams.

Ohio currently has one KIPP school, KIPP: Journey Academy, which serves grades five through eight in Columbus, and is sponsored by Fordham. While Mathematica did not include KIPP: Journey in its study, we do know that state-reported data indicate that KIPP: Journey is effectively educating students. It was rated “Effective” (B) by the Ohio Department of Education in 2012 and had an “Above” rating along the value-added performance indicator. This, while serving 300 students, of which 91 percent were black and 100 percent were economically disadvantaged.

The national results from Mathematica, taken together with local achievement data on KIPP: Journey, suggest that the KIPP charter model should be primed to expand in Ohio. And, in fact, KIPP Central Ohio, the board of KIPP: Journey Academy, has plans to possibly purchase land from Columbus State Community College and expand the number of KIPP schools. This expansion will serve approximately 2,000 low-income students in Columbus over the next several years.  We are particularly excited about and supportive of this effort, because in October 2012 Fordham approved two new KIPP schools in Columbus—including an additional middle school—for sponsorship. Both will open in the fall of 2014.

Mathematica’s findings provide additional evidence that high-quality charter networks such as KIPP change kids’ lives. And Ohio’s policymakers, authorizers, and charter advocates should take note of the evidence and lend their support for the recruitment and expansion of high-quality charter networks, such as KIPP.

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