KIPP charter schools, a national network of schools targeting low-income, minority areas, will be the focus of a research study to evaluate its impact on students.
KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) was founded in 1994 to serve predominantly black and Hispanic communities. Its 57 schools in 17 states include KIPP Ascend Charter School in neighboring North Lawndale.
Princeton, N.J.-based Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., will conduct the study through a $4 million grant from Atlantic Philanthropies, a worldwide human rights organization.
“About a year ago representatives of KIPP decided to outsource a review committee that can conduct a study on the impact of the KIPP schools on their students,” said Debbie Fine, public relations coordinator of KIPP.
Mathematica is a nonpartisan policy research group. KIPP is nationally recognized for its work in educating children in traditionally underserved communities.
The study will be conducted over five years, focusing on KIPP’s impact on student achievement, and the long-term impact of KIPP’s model on student success in high school and at the collegiate level.
“We wanted to find the most qualified organization that could look objectively at KIPP’s record,” said Fine.
The study will consist of randomly chosen students as sample members of a treatment group. These students will be chosen from the schools that hold admissions lotteries.
“Choosing students from the lotteries allows us to use subjects with the drive to attend the charter school, however, due to space, may or may not be able to attend,” said Philip Gleason, a senior researcher at Mathematica, who will direct the evaluation. “Consequently, we can assess the paths of those that are chosen from those that are not chosen by KIPP.”
To chronicle the academic progress for each student, researchers will measure the test subjects’ school records, parent surveys and results from standardized testing.
For the “non-experimental component,” Mathematica will collect multiple data over the same period from traditional middle schools, including records and test scores.
This approach, researchers believe, will allow KIPP representatives to gauge precisely what the school’s rate of success is and whether there are any discrepancies between the KIPP schools and general public schools.
According to KIPP’s own research, 80 percent of students from the first two KIPP academies, located in Chicago and Houston, have attended college, besting community averages of close to 20 percent. This year, KIPP will expand to 66 schools in 19 states and Washington, D.C. including two new communities in Columbus and Minneapolis.
“This spring we will be in contact with KIPP schools with lotteries and parents of students looking to attend the charter school to begin the process of picking research subjects,” said Gleason.
The study is expected to begin this fall.