What You Measure Matters – Introducing Our Report Card

The below post is a letter from our Chairman of the Board, John Fisher, and CEO, Richard Barth, introducing the 2011 Report Card

In just over a decade, KIPP has grown from two middle schools in Houston and New York City to 109 public charter schools in 20 states and Washington, D.C. While we have expanded dramatically, KIPP’s mission is unchanged: to create a respected, influential, and national network of public schools that are successful in helping students from underserved communities develop the knowledge, skills, character, and habits needed to succeed in college and the competitive world beyond.

We are proud to present KIPP’s 2011 Report Card. KIPP’s Report Card assesses our progress toward our mission and provides up-to-date answers to the Six Essential Questions we ask to gauge our network’s health:

1. Are we serving the children who need us?
2. Are our students staying with us?
3. Are KIPP students progressing and achieving academically?
4. Are KIPP alumni climbing the mountain to and through college?
5. Are we building a sustainable people model?
6. Are we building a sustainable financial model?

What you read in the pages that follow is only possible thanks to outstanding, dedicated school leaders and teachers who are supported by effective systems. KIPP educators assume responsibility for our students’ long-term success. We continue that commitment by tracking and reporting how both our students and alumni are performing. And we learn from and share that data, enabling us to get better as we get bigger.

Growing our network has only strengthened our conviction that there is no perfect school model. Rather, we have learned that realizing our mission means continually adapting to better serve our students. It means understanding the factors, such as great leadership and great teaching, which contribute to the success of our schools and network.

This is hard work. Since our earliest days, we have made it clear to the children we serve, our KIPPsters, that there are no shortcuts. And our KIPPsters have demonstrated through their desire and discipline that students from underserved communities can achieve at levels few thought possible 20 years ago. Their accomplishments have inspired many. Thanks in part to their efforts, thousands of committed educators across the country have been moved to open life-changing schools in our most underresourced communities. And all of us at KIPP can learn from these new schools and other exceptional schools, even as we continue to share what we are learning.

As we have traveled the country this year, we have been inspired by what we see unfolding in communities such as New Orleans, New York, and Washington, D.C. We have met civic leaders in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, and St. Louis who are determined to create and support great schools. At the same time, we recognize that we have a long way to go. We try to keep this important work simple by asking ourselves two questions at every stop we make:

How many children in this community go to a school that is preparing them for a life of options in a competitive world? Is that number greater this year than it was last year?

By reading this report, you honor the tireless efforts of our teachers, leaders, and staff who are delivering on the promises we make to our KIPPsters each year. Thank you, to all of you, who are making it possible for more children in more communities to attend a great public school—you are helping to build a better tomorrow.