8 Highlights of 2011 – A Note from Richard Barth

Dear KIPP Team and Family –

As the year comes to a close, there is so much to acknowledge and so much for which we can be thankful. As we head into the New Year, I wanted to share 8 highlights from 2011.

1. We opened our 109th KIPP School this year.

In the last five years, we’ve grown to serve over 33,500 students across the nation, and have begun to start earlier and stay longer with our KIPPsters. Today, the KIPP network includes 30 elementary schools, 18 high schools and 61 middle schools. In NYC, we are opening our 9th school next year, on the way to 11. In Newark, we will open our 5thschool next year, having set a goal to grow to 10 schools. In Washington, D.C, we are also on our way to opening our 10th school, and have the potential to continue to grow in the years ahead. In New Orleans, we currently have 9 schools – on the path to 12. In Atlanta, we are set to open our 6th school this coming summer. In Memphis we will open their 3rd and 4thschools next year, on our way to 10. We will open our 3rd school in Chicago this summer, and are hopeful for future growth in the Windy City over the next four years. In Texas we are serving children in 29 schools in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin. We are growing in our two rural regions, the Delta of Arkansas and eastern North Carolina. In Massachusetts, we are now able to grow thanks to the charter cap being lifted. And, in spite of terrific economic challenges, we are excited to double the number of KIPP schools in California.

Just as exciting, a number of communities that currently are home to one KIPP school have also encouraged us to grow, and we hope to be opening more schools in St. Louis, Dallas, Nashville and Columbus. To learn more about our plans for growth in 2011-12, click here.

2. Our Commitment: To and Through College

Even as we have grown, we have maintained relentlessly focused on our mission – success in college and the competitive world beyond for our students. In May we published our first ever KIPP College Completion Report, a report in which we shared the college outcomes for all the KIPP 8th grade completers from our earliest classes, and outlined our early learning regarding the complexity of the college completion challenge. Our network embraced the opportunity to step back, review the facts, and begin to examine the implications for all that we do, from our elementary schools through college counseling.

3. Partnering with Higher Education

After the release of this report, we embarked on an effort to secure partnerships with up to 20 colleges and universities by July 2012. These partnerships will allow us to identify institutions committed to serving KIPPsters well, cluster KIPPsters in these institutions, and work to strengthen the supports these campuses offer to ensure our students are persisting and earning degrees at the highest rates possible. We are excited to report, as we head into the New Year’s break, that we have secured our first 5 college partnerships and we are in active discussion with other higher education institutions. Our early partnerships are with University of Houston, Tulane University, Franklin & Marshall College, Colby College, and Davidson College. To learn more about our College Partnership effort, please feel free to reach out to Megan Aghazadian at MAghazadian@kipp.org

4. State Test Scores are one – but far from the only – indicator of a Healthy KIPP School

This year was also the year we shared our KIPP Healthy Schools & Regions efforts with the public at large.

The Healthy Schools & Regions initiative revolves around 6 Essential Questions. It informs KIPP decision-making and prioritization at local, regional and national levels, helps improve our understanding of promising practices throughout the KIPP network, and helps our teachers and leaders drive student outcomes.

In addition to explaining the thinking behind Healthy Schools & Regions in our annual Report Card, we committed to sharing this holistic perspective on performance with all who are interested, including leaders on Capitol Hill, the New York City Charter Schools Center, and a range of charter organizations and school districts through the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation’s webinar series.

5. Our First Blended Learning School

2010-11 was the year KIPP opened its first “blended learning” school, KIPP Empower Academy, in Los Angeles. Led by School Leader Mike Kerr, KIPP Empower utilizes adaptive technology to provide students with both teacher-led, small-group instruction, and independent learning time on the computer. To learn more about what is underway at KIPP Empower, serving both kindergarten and 1st grade this year, click here.

Following in KIPP Empower’s footsteps, KIPP schools across the country are seizing opportunities to leverage technology to provide individualized instruction to our KIPPsters and drive even stronger growth. In November, the Gates Foundation awarded 21 grants to support school and school network’s innovations in technology, and 7 of those were awarded to KIPP schools. From KIPP Comienza in LA, where our team is piloting a rotational model in literacy and supplemental math instruction using DreamBox and student learning websites, to KIPP DC where they are using Lexia Reading software in conjunction with their Special Education curriculum to support literacy skills development for Special Education students in middle and high school – each KIPP winner is taking a unique approach to their blended learning pilots, and we are excited by the promise of these new approaches, for KIPP and for schools everywhere.

6. Launching the KIPP Framework for Excellent Teaching

This year the KIPP Framework for Excellent Teaching became the network’s common language and tool for coaching and professional development of teachers. The Framework defines teaching as an art and science that requires technical knowledge and personal growth to serve our kids on the path to and through college. It pulls together the incredible work of many outside of KIPP – from Jon Saphier and Doug Lemov to our colleagues at Teach For America, Achievement First and Yes Prep schools – while also capturing the competencies and behaviors that make teaching at KIPP extraordinarily joyful and impactful work.

7. The KIPP Character Report Card

2011 was the year we piloted the KIPP Character Report Card at KIPP NYC. The New York Times Magazine published an article on this groundbreaking work, being done in partnership with the Riverdale Country Day School and the University of Pennsylvania. And in case you ever wondered whether developing character matters, enjoy this story about KIPP alumnus Jayson Carter, the smallest Division 1 football player in the country. You can find more about our focus on character here.

8. Training More Leaders than Ever, for KIPP and for Others

2011 was the year we trained more leaders for KIPP schools – and other schools – than at any point in our history. 275 rising leaders are enrolled in one of KIPP’s 6 leadership development programs, including 10 from Noble Street, 6 from Yes Prep, 5 from Achievement First, and our first 4 international fellows, who will open schools in India, Mexico and South Africa. To apply to open a new KIPP school or learn about leadership development programming, visit the School Leaders section of our website.

This year, with the support of our federal i3 grant, we’ve also launched our inaugural KIPP Leadership Design Fellowship, an eight-month program for school district and charter system administrators that provides intensive training on KIPP’s principal development model. The fellowship will provide an opportunity for participants to get an in-depth look at KIPP’s principal selection, training, and development model, explore a variety of other innovative school leadership models around the country, and join a cohort of reform-minded education leaders. To learn more, contact kdlf@kipp.org

Looking Ahead:

  • 55,000 students
  • 10,000 alumni in college
  • A catalytic force in the communities we serve

We are now headed into the second half of year one of a five-year plan that will see us double the number of KIPPsters we serve in our schools and grow by tenfold the number of KIPPsters in college, while moving us towards a college completion rate that is 5 times what is achieved by low-income children of color in America. We are approaching these goals with the recognition that it will not be easy.

We are excited about taking on the challenges associated with pursuing these goals, as we have never been more excited about the broader efforts of which we are a part. This fall I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to travel to St. Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans, Chicago, the Bay Area, Dallas, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Boston and Newark. These travels have inspired me, as I have met civic leaders in community after community who recognize that we can move beyond the debate about “district vs. charter,” and all work off of one report card for an entire community.

And for each community, that report card aims to answer a single question:  how many of our children wake up today and head off to a school that is preparing them for a life with choices?

As civic leader after civic leader recognizes that we are all working with one report card, the question it raises for each of us is straightforward – by virtue of our efforts, is the number of children attending great schools changing year over year? At KIPP, we hope that by opening new schools in the communities we serve, by reaching more children directly and getting better at delivering on our promises as we get bigger, by sharing what we are learning and by supporting the herculean efforts of others to open and lead great new schools, we are playing a role in ensuring that – year by year – more children wake up and head off to a school that is truly preparing them for a life of choices.


This is hard work, and none of it would be possible without the incredible people who make KIPP, KIPP. And so, with a few days left in 2011, I would like to close with gratitude.

To our students and their families, thank you. When you wake up and head out to school an hour (or two) earlier than your friends and neighbors, and return home from school later; when you do hours of homework to get ready for the next day, working harder than others think makes sense, and when you care more about your KIPP teammates and your community than others think is wise – you inspire each and every one of us to do more.

To our school support staff, regional leadership teams, local board members and KIPP Foundation team, thank you. You represent the very best in America. At a time when so many have doubts about the future of our nation, your relentless, can-do attitude and commitment to delivering on promises stands out more than ever.

To our 109 amazing school leaders, thank you. Thank you for your willingness to lead school communities where character matters as much as academics, and perhaps even more. Thank you for walking the walk, and not just talking the talk. Thank you for accepting and embracing the absolutely awesome responsibility that is school leadership.

And to our more than 2,000 teachers, who truly make this all possible, thank you. Each year when I ask KIPP alumni to tell me what made the difference, the answer is always the same. Yes, the hours were longer. Yes, the expectations were higher. Yes, the hard-earned end of year trips to special places were memorable. But what truly made the difference (and this is always the case) is that young KIPPster’s relationship with a teacher. Always.

To the KIPP Foundation board:  Rhonda Kalifey-Alouise, Katherine Bradley, Philippe Dauman, Mike Feinberg, Doris Fisher, John Fisher, Reed Hastings, David Leebron, Dave Levin, Michael Lomax, Mark Nunnelly, Carrie Penner, and Jose Villarreal, thank you for wise counsel and unrelenting commitment to building a better tomorrow for all children in America.

Last, but not least, to all those who support the KIPP Foundation and KIPP Schools, thank you.

We wish you a very happy holiday season and here’s to a wonderful 2012.


Richard Barth
KIPP Foundation