NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Charter School Among The Best In Texas

November 23, 1999

As the charter school movement gains more adherents, they may want to hold up Houston's KIPP Academy as a model. KIPP, for Knowledge is Power Program, has a mostly low-income and minority student body in grades five through eight. It is publicly funded but independently run. KIPP makes high demands of its students, but so far the rewards have been great as well.

  • Students must arrive at 7:25 every morning and stay until 5:00 each day but Friday.
  • Several hours of homework are mandatory; if students have trouble studying at home, a college student stays late at the school so students can study there.
  • Saturday and summer sessions are also required.
  • Students, parents and teachers must all sign contracts pledging total commitment.

But then there's the payoff:

  • Students have posted among the highest test scores in Texas academic-assessment tests for four straight years.
  • One hundred percent of the student body passed this year's math tests, 10 to 16 percent higher than state averages.
  • Of last year's departing 50 students, more than half are on four-year high school scholarships worth a combined $1.2 million.
  • The 300-student school, in its fifth year, has a waiting list 300 students long.

"It's not rocket science," says KIPP co-founder and principal Michael Feinberg. "It's so simple that most people don't get it."

Source: Dennis McCafferty, "The Best Little School in Texas -- and Maybe America?" USA Weekend, November 19-21, 1999.


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