Knowledge is Power Program Revisited

Education Week is reporting on a recent study conducted by Mathematica Policy Research Inc that found KIPP schools are making significant gains in narrowing the achievement gap in math:

Students’ gains in mathematics after three years in a charter school run by the Knowledge Is Power Program, or KIPP, are large enough in about half of schools to significantly narrow race and income based achievement gaps among students, according to a study of 22 KIPP middle schools nationwide…

At about half the KIPP schools, the study found that the gains in math for students after three years in the schools were equivalent of 1.2 years of extra instruction and .9 years of additional instruction in reading, Mr. Gill said. (emphasis mine)

Critics have argued that KIPP schools are able to achieve notable results through the practice of ‘skimming’, that is, recruiting only high-achieving students from public schools.  The study, however, found no evidence of KIPP schools ‘systematically enrolling more high-performers from their school districts’.

We’ve written before on the KIPP program and the results they’ve achieved in a relatively short period of time.  Much recent research has focused on extending instructional time and KIPP capitalizes on this idea by providing longer school days and additional time devoted to class time and instruction.

Ms. Lake acknowledged that some people question the sustainability of KIPP because the schools have a longer school day than regular public schools and place a lot of demands on teachers.  But she said that KIPP is replicating schools faster than most charter-management organizations in the country, “so they’ve got to be doing something right in terms of organizational growth.”

Although far from conclusive, this study lends credence to the growing body of research on the importance of instructional time.  Specifically, extending the hours of instruction a student receives each year may be an important strategy for reducing the achievement gap.

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