By Richard Barth, KIPP Foundation CEO
Today, Mathematica Policy Research released its third report on KIPP schools to date. I want to take this opportunity to share some context and reflect on the latest findings.
As many of you know, Mathematica has been intensively studying KIPP schools for the past eight years. The two previous reports from their earlier study of KIPP Middle Schools were released in 2010 and 2013.
Mathematica’s independent study of KIPP is an outgrowth of our commitment to transparency and public accountability. Through third-party research like this – along with our annual Report Card and Healthy Schools and Regions Initiative – we identify how our schools are fulfilling their mission and where they can improve.
Today’s report is unique because it goes broader than any previous studies of KIPP. For the first time, Mathematica studied all K-12 levels of KIPP, including elementary and high schools as well as middle schools. They also looked at how KIPP schools have performed over time, particularly before and after we received a federal Investing in Innovation (i3) Scale-Up Grant.
Key takeaways from Mathematica’s 2015 report:
- KIPP elementary schools have positive, statistically significant, and educationally meaningful impacts in reading and math. Three years after entering KIPP elementary schools, students showed progress on three out of four measures of reading and math skills, as compared to similar students in their local communities.
- KIPP middle schools have positive, statistically significant, and educationally meaningful impacts in reading, math, science, and social studies. This is consistent with Mathematica’s previous research, which found that KIPP middle schools are producing gains for students in every tested subject compared to similar local students.
- KIPP middle schools have maintained positive and statistically significant impacts over the past decade. Average impacts of middle schools were positive and statistically significant throughout the 10-year period covered by the study, though higher in earlier years than recent years. The KIPP middle schools that opened during the i3 scale-up period—2011 and later—are having similar impacts to those of older KIPP middle schools when they were in their first years.
- KIPP high schools had positive, statistically significant, and educationally meaningful impacts on achievement for high school students new to the KIPP network. Compared to similar neighborhood students, new KIPPsters showed greater achievement in math, reading, and science.
- For students continuing from KIPP middle schools, KIPP high schools’ average additional impacts were not statistically significant compared to other high schools that enroll KIPP graduates. For the three most experienced high schools in the study, Mathematica found positive, statistically significant impacts in reading, language, and math.
- KIPP high schools are having positive impacts on college preparedness. Among students who graduated from KIPP middle schools, those who went to KIPP high schools took more college-prep courses like AP, received more college counseling, and applied to college at greater rates.
Beyond looking at the objective school outcomes, Mathematica also surveyed students and parents on attitudes and general satisfaction. On surveys of student motivation, engagement, behavior, and educational aspirations, KIPP schools showed no significant impact. KIPP did have a positive impact on parent satisfaction with their child’s school.
I want to acknowledge the determination and achievements of our students, parents, teacher and school leaders. We are proud to know that, when scientifically measured, we are having a significant impact on the majority of our students, even as we have grown to a network of 183 schools that is now serving close to 70,000 children. At the same time, we are far from satisfied and recognize that we have work to do in realizing the full potential of all our KIPPsters.