Knowledge Is Power Program
|Focus||Preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life.|
Mike Feinberg, Co-Founder
Dave Levin, Co-FounderRichard Barth, CEO
|Slogan||Work hard. Be nice.|
The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) is a nationwide network of free open-enrollment college-preparatory schools in under-resourced communities throughout the United States. KIPP schools are usually established under state charter school laws and KIPP is America's largest network of charter schools. The head offices are in San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C..
KIPP was founded in 1994 by Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, two Teach For America corps members. In 1995, they opened two KIPP middle schools, one in Houston and one in New York City. Both schools were among the highest-performing schools in their communities by 1999. KIPP was one of the charter school organizations to help produce the Relay Graduate School of Education for teacher training.
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KIPP began in 1994 after co-founders Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg completed their two-year commitment to Teach For America. A year later, they launched a program for fifth graders in a public school in inner-city Houston, Texas. Feinberg developed KIPP Academy Houston into a charter school, while Levin went on to establish KIPP Academy New York in the South Bronx. The original KIPP Academies have a sustained record of high student achievement.
More than 96% of KIPP students are African American or Latino/Hispanic; more than 87% are eligible for the federally subsidized meal program. Students are accepted regardless of prior academic record, conduct, or socioeconomic background. However KIPP schools typically have lower concentrations of special education and limited English proficiency (LEP) students, than the public schools from which they draw.
Doris and Donald Fisher, co-founders of Gap Inc., formed a partnership with Feinberg and Levin to replicate KIPP's success nationwide. Established in 2000 with a $15 million grant from the Fishers, the nonprofit KIPP Foundation recruits, trains, and supports outstanding teachers in opening and leading high-performing college-preparatory public schools in educationally underserved communities. The foundation helps secure facilities and operating contracts while training school leaders through a yearlong fellowship called "Fisher Fellows" that includes a program of coursework, residencies at other KIPP Schools, and support from KIPP staff.
KIPP students are admitted through a lottery system. After a student is selected from the lottery and the student decides that he or she would like to attend a KIPP school, a home visit is set up with a teacher or the principal of the school, who meets with the family and student(s) to discuss expectations of all students, teachers and the parents in KIPP. Students, parents, and teachers are then all required to sign a KIPP commitment of excellence, agreeing to fulfill specific responsibilities, promising that they will do everything in their power to help the student succeed and go to college.
As of spring 2015, 45 percent of KIPP students have earned a four-year college degree after finishing eighth grade at a KIPP middle school ten or more years ago. This is above the national average for all students (34 percent), and five times the rate of the average student from a low-income community (9 percent).
KIPP has extended school days, requires attendance on Saturdays, offers extra-curricular activities, and adds three extra weeks of school in July. Most KIPP schools run from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on select Saturdays (usually twice a month). KIPP has built partnerships with other organizations, such as the United Negro College Fund, to address financial issues that might be related to the high rate of college attrition for their alumni.
During the school year, KIPP students can earn trips to visit colleges, go ice-skating, etc. At the end of the school year, the students can then attend an end of the school year field trip. These trips expose low-income students to new opportunities. For example, KIPP Academy Middle School in Houston, Texas, sends sixth graders to Utah and eighth graders to Washington, D.C., while fifth and seventh graders take a small trip within Texas for budget reasons.
In June 2010, Mathematica Policy Research produced the first findings from a multi-year evaluation of KIPP: "Using a matched comparison group design, results show that for the vast majority of KIPP schools in the evaluation, impacts on students' state assessment scores in math and reading are positive, statistically significant, and educationally substantial."
At the vanguard of experimentation with educational methods and techniques are charter schools: public schools that operate outside the normal governance structure of the public school system. In recent years, charter schools such as the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) and Achievement First have upended the way Americans think about educating disadvantaged children, eliminating the sense of impossibility and hopelessness and suggesting a set of highly promising methods.
A research report published in March 2005 by the Economic Policy Institute in book form as The Charter School Dust-Up: Examining the Evidence on Enrollment and Achievement, however, described the degree to which KIPP's admission process selects for likely high achievers:
KIPP students, as a group, enter KIPP with substantially higher achievement than the typical achievement of schools from which they came. ...[T]eachers told us either that they referred students who were more able than their peers, or that the most motivated and educationally sophisticated parents were those likely to take the initiative to pull children out of the public school and enroll in KIPP at the end of fourth grade. Today, KIPP Schools have added Pre-K through 12th grade schools. A clear pattern to emerge from these interviews was that almost always it was students with unusually supportive parents or intact families who were referred to KIPP and completed the enrollment process.
Criticism and commentary
Some observers, such as the authors of The Charter School Dust-Up, say that KIPP's admission process self-screens for students who are motivated and compliant and come from similarly motivated, compliant as well as supportive families. The 2010 Mathematica Policy Research study found that KIPP schools had a "lower concentration of special education and limited English proficiency students than the public schools from which they draw".
In addition, some KIPP schools show high rates of attrition, especially for those students entering the schools with the lowest test scores. A 2008 study by SRI International found that while KIPP fifth-grade students who enter with below-average scores significantly outperform peers in public schools by the end of year one, "60 percent of students who entered fifth grade at four Bay Area KIPP schools in 2003–04 left before completing eighth grade", although research on attrition at one KIPP school in Massachusetts differs. The SRI report also discusses student mobility due to changing economic situations for student's families, but does not directly link this factor into student attrition. Figures for schools in all states are not readily available.
While KIPP's goal is that 75% of KIPP students graduate from college, a report they released in April 2011 stated that the college graduation rate for students who completed the first middle school program in 1999 and 2000 was about 33%.
The report states that 95% of the students completed high school, 89% of the students went to college, and 33% of the students earned a degree. This is in contrast to only 70% completing high school, 41% going to college, and 8% earning a four-year degree for students in a similar economic background to that which KIPP draws from.
Overall in the United States 83% of students complete high school, 62% enroll in college, and 31% complete a four-year degree.
For the overall graduation rate for students entering college in the United States one study found a value of 56% (Pathways to Prosperity Study), and another study found a value of 54% (American Dream 2.0 Report).
KIPP's goal of a 75% college graduation rate is close to the 82% college graduation rate for students coming from the highest income quartile.
Jay Mathews, writing for The Washington Post, was encouraged by the results from the KIPP report, although he pointed out that the sample size was only 200 students, and that after graduating from the KIPP middle school the students were no longer attending a KIPP school. Both Matthews and Kay S. Hymowitz writing for City Journal find the 75% goal to be ambitious.
The report published in April 2011 projects that KIPP students who graduate from college will increase from over 6,000 in 2014, to over 7,500 in 2015, to about 10,500 in 2016.
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- Angrist, J. D.; Dynarski, S. M.; Kane, T. J.; Pathak, P. A.; Walters, C. R. (2012). "Who Benefits from KIPP?". Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. 31 (4): 837–860. doi:10.1002/pam.21647.
- Jay Mathews (29 April 2011). "KIPP criticizes its college graduation record". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
- "College Completion Report". KIPP Public Charter Schools | Knowledge Is Power Program. KIPP: Knowledge is Power Program. Retrieved 2013-03-18. April 2011
- Kay S. Hymowitz (June 28, 2011). "Still No Sign of Superman". Retrieved 2013-03-19.
- "College Completion Report". KIPP Public Charter Schools | Knowledge Is Power Program. KIPP: Knowledge is Power Program. Retrieved 2013-03-18. April 2011, (see page 9 of the report (page 11 of the issuu document))
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- "College Completion Report". KIPP Public Charter Schools | Knowledge Is Power Program. KIPP: Knowledge is Power Program. Retrieved 2013-03-19. April 2011, (see page 7 of the report (page 9 of the issuu document))
- "College Completion Report". KIPP Public Charter Schools | Knowledge Is Power Program. KIPP: Knowledge is Power Program. Retrieved 2013-03-19. April 2011, (see page 19 of the report (page 21 of the issuu document))
- KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program: the KIPP Foundation website.