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Thompson: KIPP's Advantages -- And Drawbacks

image from www.sas.upenn.eduNow that Gary Miron and other researchers at Western Michigan University have documented that KIPP schools can receive an average of $5,760 in private money per student there seems to be little to prevent people of good will from reaching a consensus on that small network of worthy schools.  As Bruce Fuller explains, the “eye-opening”  study showed that "a well-endowed, inspirationally run charter school can lift poor children. The question raised by this study is whether the model could be replicated if wealthy donors were to walk away.” But there's also the attrition issue.  A sample of 22 of KIPP's 99 schools have an attrition rate that may be no worse than other tough middle schools, but they lose more of their lower performing students and a sample of 60 KIPP schools loses 40% of its black males.  By definition, the KIPP system means that they are not teaching "the same students," and it does not serve as many special education and ELL students.  In the end, I agree with Michael Casserly's observation that KIPP has "taught us a great deal about what could work and what the circumstances might be for that work,” but “it’s not always clear that their business model can be sustained over the long run, in the way that we need to sustain reform and improvement in the regular schools.”- JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via.


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There's a more significant difference, John -- KIPP schools overall do not replace the students who leave, and a study by SRI International showed that it's the lower-performing students who leave. So KIPP schools end up with a much smaller, streamlined class consisting of the higher achievers. That's not the case with public schools, which replace the high-mobility students who leave with arriving high-mobility students, for no overall decrease.

Caroline, you are absolutely right. That's one more thing that people of good will should be able to recognize.

After just reviewing the transparency cartoon, the need for hard data to support conclusions is identified within the support of this charter school. The acknowledgement of student attrition identifies transparency and while this program might work in this scenrio, until it is replicated across the nation, preferrably in a series of pilot studies, I would argue that the jury should remain out and while points of the program may be successful, it is too early to tell, based on the research whether a wholesale transition of the program into other districts and states is premature. However, I do not want to be a killjoy and this is a step in the right direction, now let's take another.

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