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Choice & Charters        < Previous        Next >



4 Out of 5 KIPP Charter Schools

Out-Perform the Nearest Traditional Public School


Q. How do kids in charter schools do compared to kids in regular public schools?


According to David W. Kirkpatrick of, a report in the Charter Schools News Connection, sponsored by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, indicates that kids in charter schools do better.


He reported that an independent study of the San Francisco Bay Area's five public charter middle schools operated by KIPP (the Knowledge Is Power Program, dedicated to providing college preparatory education in low-income communities) finds that the program's intense focus on the academic and social success of each individual child does have measurable benefits beyond what traditional schools have achieved.


"Four out of five KIPP schools outperform their host district," says the report by researchers at SRI International, which studied two KIPPs in San Francisco, two in San Jose, and the one in Oakland. Students in most grades also made above-average progress compared with the national average, the researchers found.


At three schools, KIPP's fifth-graders scored significantly higher on California Standards Tests than non-KIPP fifth-graders, with the difference ranging from 6 to 33 percentage points. Bay Area KIPP schools also do not appear to attract higher-scoring students.


Other evidence from around the country of charter school effectiveness:


  • Enrollment in the Washington, D.C. school district has dropped more than 8% since last year, the steepest decline since the district first hired an outside auditor to verify the student population in 1999. Meanwhile, charter officials in D.C. predict a 20 percent gain, to 26,494 students. About 1,200 students of that increase is attributable to the conversion of seven financially struggling Catholic schools that recently reopened as secular public charter schools.


  • School district officials in Utah are asking lawmakers to find a statewide method of funding public charter schools because they have gotten so big. During the 2006-07 school year, 51 public charter schools were serving 19,211 students.


  • As enrollment drops beneath 100,000 in Detroit Public Schools, Republican leaders are discussing a new and potentially larger public charter school system as an alternative to failing districts. Neighborhood Public Schools would allow corporations and community groups to open schools without an authorizer. It would target all underperforming districts, not just Detroit.


  • For the first time in the Los Angeles Unified School District, a traditional school is being run by an outside organization, Green Dot Public Schools. The L.A. Times reports that observers are closely watching whether the public charter operator can transform a large, troubled urban school and replicate what it has done in small schools nearby: significantly raise scores, increase safety and graduate more students. At the nearest public school, more students drop out than graduate, and fewer than 1 in 25 score proficient or better in math.


  • One-half of New York City's 42 rated public charter schools recently received an "A" under the state's grading system. That is a significantly higher proportion of A's than the 37.3 percent of traditional public schools receiving the top grade. Three public charters made it into the top five schools overall. The top scorers included the KIPP Infinity Charter School in Harlem, which for the second year running was rated the best school in the city. 

Homework: See the website of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools,


By Susan Darst Williams Choice & Charters 05 2008


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