NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Add "Kipp" to the Growing List of School "Brand Names"

August 17, 2000

There are the Edison Schools, E.D. Hirsh's Core Knowledge schools and Theodore Sizer's Coalition of Essential Schools. There are also two KIPP schools -- one in New York and the other in Houston -- which are about to be replicated across the country, thanks to $15 million in seed money donated by Donald G. and Doris Fisher, owners of the Gap clothing chain.

These "brand name" schools differ in their styles of teaching, but all are dedicated to creating quality alternatives to failing public schools.

The expansion of KIPP -- which stands for Knowledge is Power Program -- is one of the most ambitious and intriguing of a host of new replication projects spawned by the growing practice of holding schools accountable for student achievement.

Today, KIPP-New York outperforms all other Bronx middle schools on New York's standardized tests. And 98 percent of the students at KIPP-Houston pass all sections of Texas' state exams.

How are these successes being achieved?

  • Located in poor sections of their cities, the two KIPP Academies require 70 percent more class time than their public counterparts.
  • Teachers carry cellphones and are on call to answer homework questions at any time, while parents sign contracts enumerating daunting demands.
  • Focusing on school leadership, would-be KIPP school founders first attend an intensive six-week seminar, then they are posted to eight-week "residencies" at each KIPP campus -- after which each of the first four "fellows" will establish schools in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Houston and rural North Carolina.
  • Every school must share devotion to basic principles -- high expectations, enrollment by choice, a principal who controls the budget and hiring, an extended school day and year, rewards and consequences for student and staff achievement, and outstanding academic results.

So far, eighth-grade graduates have earned $6 million in scholarships to the nation's top private high schools over the past two years, and continue to earn good grades in their new schools.

Source: Jodi Wilgoren, "After Success With Poor, Schools Try Cloning," New York Times, August 16, 2000.


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