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News Study Sheds Light on KIPP Charter Schools
posted by: Alix | March 31, 2011, 03:21 PM   

The Knowledge is Power Program, or KIPP, has been celebrated as one of the most ground breaking networks of charter schools in the country. KIPP's success in significantly narrowing race and income based achievement gaps has been proven in study after study due to their aggressive and innovative approach to student learning. While KIPP's student outcomes success has been researched at length, a new study by Western Michigan University researchers sheds light on KIPP individual students and funding.

Many of the problems that persist in regular public school remain in KIPP schools according to some of the data. "The dropout rate for African-American males is really shocking," said Gary J. Miron, professor at Western Michigan University, and the lead researcher for the study. "KIPP is doing a great job of educating students who persist, but not all who come."

Some of the research also highlights increased donations and funding as possible contributors to the success of KIPP schools. On average, most charter schools receive less government money for each student, than traditional public schools. While this fact still remains true with the KIPP network, due to their massive popularity, the schools have been given grants and donations from several national groups. Some critics argue that without this funding the schools won't be able to sustain their success.

KIPP schools operate on a "no-excuses" model that pushes students to improve their achievement and to take responsibility for their education. Parents are required to sign a pledge that they will check students' homework and make sure they arrive on time to school, among other commitments. The schools run on an extended school day during the week, and students must attend Saturday classes every other week.

The KIPP model inevitably costs more due to increased instruction time; however, according to KIPP, still less than average public schools. KIPP estimates the cost, on average, $1,200 to $1,600 per student to provide the extended weekday hours, Saturday classes and other extra learning time. He also estimated average government financing nationwide at between $9,000 and $10,000 per KIPP student. For comparison, the cost per-pupil spending in Newark, New Jersey is $24,000 according to Governor Christie.

With 99 charter schools across the country, most of which serve grades 5 to 8, the KIPP network has built a national reputation for success in enabling low-income, minority students to do well academically. The study never challenges KIPP's positive student outcomes and states that their track record of improving student test scores has been proven by "rigorous and well-documented studies."

While funding is always a hot topic of debate among reformers and critics of charter schools, no one has been able to downplay the success of the KIPP model. President Obama has even advocated for adoption of some KIPP policies, including a longer school day.

Do you think elements of the KIPP model can be implemented in other schools?
Comment below.

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