Study shows KIPP schools closing achievement gap

February 27, 2013 6:20:05 PM PST
It's been 19 years since two teachers launched a program for underserved kids. That program, called "Knowledge Is Power Program" or KIPP, has grown into a network of schools in 20 states. KIPP wanted to see if their charter schools have been on the right track so they commissioned a study done only at their middle schools.

The moment you walk onto one of their campuses, you know you're at a KIPP charter school. Students must walk in a straight line. This kind of discipline is essential to their learning. KIPP wanted to know if they are doing a better job in student achievement at their 43 middle schools than other traditional public schools. The study was done over a 6-year period by an independent policy research group called "Mathematica."

"The study looked at student achievement in math, reading, science, and social studies," said Debbie Reed with Mathematica Policy Research. They took the results from state and national tests, and found that KIPP schools were able to improve student achievement in all those areas and did better than students at traditional public schools with the same kind of socio-economic background.

Three days a week, KIPP students stay at school until 5 p.m. On Saturdays, they offer tutoring for those who need it. Then, there's the homework. "It's kind of hard. It's kind of easy, but there's a lot of it," student Amaris Canada said. But according to the study, the longer days had little effect on student achievement.

What did was the amount of time a teacher spends on a subject matter. Classes there are longer. "One thing we did see is that the more time on task, was associated with higher scores," Reed said. The study found that those who were forced to behave did better in the classroom. "We don't have to focus on behavior problems. We don't have to focus on who's dressed the best. We don't have to focus on anything else but learning," explained Vice Principal Sherrye Hubbard.

"I know in the long run, it will pay off when I get an acceptance letter from college, from high school. I know it will pay off," student Tristan Curl said.


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