Evaluation of Bay Area KIPP Schools
KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, is an unusual attempt to create schools of choice for historically underserved students that dramatically increase the amount of instructional time. With support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, SRI conducted a 3-year evaluation of five KIPP schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. The primary goals were to describe how the KIPP model works on the ground and how it affects teachers and students and to understand KIPP student achievement relative to the achievement of similar students in traditional or other school settings.
KIPP schools serve fifth- to eighth-graders in autonomous open-enrollment public schools that are generally established as charter schools within a local school district. The key tenets (or "pillars") of the KIPP model—high expectations, choice and commitment, more time, power to lead, and focus on results—were drawn in part from familiar business principles. The model calls for establishing cultural norms that support hard work, respect, and self-sufficiency and for significantly extending the school day and year to provide historically underserved students more opportunities for learning, including academic resources and cultural experiences they seldom have access to at home, such as art, music, and travel.
To understand implementation of the KIPP approach in the Bay Area, we relied on multiple sources of data over the course of the study, including extensive interviews with school leaders, teachers, and KIPP Foundation and KIPP Bay Area Schools staff; focus groups with students and parents; observations of a range of activities and events; and teacher and student surveys. For three of the five schools, analyses of student achievement included the use of student-level California Standards Test data to determine who among district students went to the KIPP schools in the districts and to construct a comparison group, using propensity score matching, against which we could assess KIPP student achievement.
We found that, at the end of fifth grade, students at the three Bay Area KIPP schools with available comparison data outperformed their matched counterparts who attended other schools in the same districts on the California Standards Test; statistically significant differences between KIPP and non-KIPP students ranged from 6 to 33 percentile points. Students who joined KIPP in the sixth grade also saw positive effects by the end of their first year. Moreover, in the three KIPP schools where we were able to draw comparisons, we found that students with lower prior achievement on the California Standards Test were more likely to choose KIPP than higher performing students from the same neighborhood.
We also identified challenges facing Bay Area KIPP schools, including high student attrition rates, teacher turnover, and low state and local funding. For example, 60 percent of students who entered fifth grade at four Bay Area KIPP schools in 2003–04 left before completing eighth grade. Annual teacher turnover rates have ranged from 18 to 49 percent since 2003–04.(William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 2004-2008)
Principal Investigator: Katrina Woodworth