We recently had the privilege of visiting a NC KIPP school . You may have seen one of the KIPP schools featured in various news reports . For those of you not familiar with this amazing organization, KIPP stands for Knowledge is Power Program, and is a network of free, open-enrollment, public charter schools located throughout the United States. There are currently about 82 of these schools in 19 states where they serve over 20,000 students.
What’s particularly notable about the KIPP network is the amazaing success they’ve had all across the country. An essential part of their blueprint are five pillars : high expectations, choice and commitment, more time, power to lead, and focus on results. There has been ample research on the power of intensive, distributed practice – in any endeavor – and the importance of keeping the educational spigot on for as long as possible. KIPP takes those research principles seriously – and it shows throughout the organization.
Principal Tammi Sutton was kind enough to allows us to tour both KIPP Gaston College Prepatory and KIPP Pride High School. School Leader, Christine Barford was particularly helpful in leading our tour and allowing us to both view classrooms and engage with the school’s classroom teachers. What we found was compelling. Not only were the KIPP teachers we spoke with enthusiastic and genuinely curious, their strong commitment to their students shined through clear and bright. KIPP teachers are provided with cell phones and students are encouraged to call for tutoring and extra help up until 9:00 each evening. Instructional time has been increased as well. KIPP students attend school from 8-5 each school day and half a day every other Saturday. The instructional implications of the extended school day are clear; and, in fact, last year, KIPP Pride High School reported 100% college acceptance rate, with many students being accepted into two or more universities!
It’s also worth nothing that KIPP students are immersed into the world of academia at a very early age. Beginning in fifth grade, KIPP students learn academic and collegiate terms, e.g. graduate, undergraduate, dorm, etc… And they begin touring college campuses just as early. In other words, college preparedness is a foregone conclusion for KIPP studnets. Given the welcome recent emphasis on college and career readiness, it’s refreshing to see a NC school achieve at such a high level and make the dream of a college career a reality for so many.