Thursday, March 31, 2011

The KIPP "miracle"

With the chorus for Charter Schools like KIPP growing louder and louder each day, I'm glad to see some researchers dig into what makes KIPP successful and how to replicate that across other schools. Unfortunately, the answer to KIPP's great success could stem from the fact that it's not actually as successful as has been claimed. On top of that, they have much more money per student than other Charters or traditional public schools.

KIPP Charter Network Enjoys Financial Advantages, Study Says -

They also have rules that could certainly make many public much more successful but would result in millions of children without any school to go to. These include requirements from parents to check students' homework, make sure they get to school on time, and other "commitments." I'm sure that public school teachers and principals would love to have this apply to their students' parents as well but when those parents fail to comply, what then?

As it turns out, another secret to KIPP's success might be its high attrition rates. The Western Michigan study found that "on average about 15 percent of students drop from KIPP cohorts every year, compared to 3 percent in public schools."

If we want to see the types of results from our traditional public schools that KIPP has achieved we will need to invest more into our teachers and schools (as opposed to the budget slashing frenzy that is currently taking place) and someone will have to come up with a method to help parents be accountable for their children.

What continues to be absent from the national debate is the demonstrably negative effect poverty has on children and their ability to learn. While it's much easier for politicians to play "blame the greedy teachers" game all the time, it isn't going to fix education.

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