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Who Benefits from KIPP?

Who Benefits from KIPP?

School Reform, June 2012

In the first ran­dom­ized lot­tery study of a Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) school, researchers Joshua Angrist, Susan. Dynarski, Thomas Kane, Parag Pathak, and Christopher Walters dis­cover that the stu­dents who ben­e­fit the most from KIPP are those com­ing in fur­thest behind. Journal of Policy Analysis and Managment.

The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) is the nation’s largest char­ter school man­age­ment orga­ni­za­tion, and schools in the KIPP net­work are emblem­atic of the No Excuses approach to pub­lic edu­ca­tion. Features of No Excuses schools include a long school day, an extended school year, selec­tive teacher hir­ing, strict behav­ior norms, and a focus on tra­di­tional read­ing and math skills. The study exploits admis­sions lot­ter­ies to mea­sure the impact of KIPP Academy Lynn on stu­dent math and read­ing scores. Notably, KIPP Academy Lynn can be char­ac­ter­ized as mostly Hispanic with a high con­cen­tra­tion of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and spe­cial need stu­dents. While char­ter crit­ics have argued that these groups of stu­dents are typ­i­cally under­served, the study of KIPP Academy Lynn, finds the oppo­site. That is, it is pre­cisely these stu­dents, groups with low incom­ing achieve­ment lev­els, ben­e­fit the most from time spent at KIPP. The read­ing gains, for instance, emerge almost entirely for the group of LEP students.