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Do KIPP Charter school students really do better?

KIPP Gets Children Into College

More evidence that charter schools lift student performance.

By The Editorial Board, WSJ

Sept. 22, 2023 6:30 pm ET

From pandemic learning loss to racial achievement gaps, many U.S. education ailments can be addressed by schools outside the traditional, union-dominated system. More evidence comes from a new report showing that the largest charter school network in the country helps students get into college, and then to get a degree.

Students who attended schools in the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) for both middle and high school were 18.9 percentage points more likely to graduate from a four-year college five years after finishing high school than students who didn’t attend KIPP, according to a Mathematica study published last week.

“An effect of this size, extrapolated nationwide, would be large enough to nearly close the degree-completion gap for Hispanic students or entirely close the degree-completion gap for Black students in the United States,” the authors write.

The study compared students who enrolled in more than a dozen KIPP schools in 2008, 2009 and 2011 with similar students who had applied for the charter schools but weren’t selected in KIPP’s lottery admission system.

KIPP students were also more likely to enroll in college—and stick with it—than non-KIPP peers. Seventy-seven percent of KIPP students enrolled in a four-year college compared to 46% of non-KIPP students. Forty-one percent of KIPP students stayed in college through the first six semesters compared to 22% of non-KIPP students.

“These findings may be driven by the college preparatory culture at network high schools,” the report notes. “KIPP provides access to rigorous, college preparatory coursework (including Advanced Placement courses), as well as counseling and other college and career-related supports.”

KIPP students also tend to do better on standardized tests. The nearly 30-year-old network enrolls roughly 120,000 students across 280 schools, and most are low-income and black or Hispanic. The best way to help disadvantaged kids is by giving them the choice of schools that provide a quality education and practical guidance for college and career.

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