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Progress report from big study of KIPP

Mathematica Policy Research Inc. won't finish its massive study of the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) until 2014, but it has issued a preliminary report. Almost all of the findings look good for KIPP, the most successful charter school network in the country, but the nation's many KIPP-watchers, including me, will not be satisfied until the research firm completes its comparison of the progress of KIPP students to similar students who applied to KIPP but were not selected in a randomized lottery.

This is the largest study ever of a single charter school network. I have promised readers I will confess when I write about KIPP that I have been studying the network for nine years and last year published a favorable book, "Work Hard. Be Nice," about KIPP co-founders Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg.

Until the randomized data comes out, many people will continue to argue that KIPP's large achievement gains are the result of the network attracting the most motivated and supportive parents. This has always struck me as nonsense. KIPP kids on average do poorly in the third and fourth grades, and much better in the fifth and sixth grades when they switch to KIPP. They had the same parents all those years. The only thing that changed was the way they were being taught. But I will shut up about that and let the social scientists do their work.

Mathematica says, in this interim report of 22 KIPP schools, "that for the vast majority of KIPP schools studied, impacts on students' state assessment scores in mathematics and reading are positive, statistically significant, and educationally substantial." Ho hum. You can find language like that in nearly every study of KIPP. But this one has some new wrinkles.

A couple of studies have suggested that KIPP may be recruiting students whose achievement level is higher than the average for children in its urban and rural neighborhoods. This preliminary study, like most others, doesn't see that. "We found no evidence that KIPP middle schools are systematically enrolling more advantaged students from their districts," Mathematica said. Since KIPP students tend to come from the poorest parts of their school districts, however, I am not sure this conclusion tells us much.

The preliminary report contradicts a notion often spread by KIPP critics on the Internet that KIPP schools have higher attrition rates than regular public schools in their areas because they are kicking out troublesome kids. Looking at these 22 schools, the researchers found that rates of attrition vary widely between KIPP schools, but average out about the same as the other public schools in their neighborhoods. By 2014 Mathematica plans to have examined 50 KIPP schools in a network that by August will have 99 schools in 20 states and the District.

Mathematica provided one statistic I had not seen before -- how KIPP's grade repetition rates compared to other schools. The study found them "consistently elevated at KIPP middle schools as compared to district public schools, particularly in fifth and sixth grades." This is expected, and a point of pride for KIPP teachers. When students arrive in fifth grade two or three years below grade level, and fail to reach what KIPP considers sixth grade level by the end of that year, they are often kept for an extra year of fifth grade. Some parents don't like this, and return their children to neighborhood schools where promoting students is the rule, rather they are ready for sixth grade or not. But the KIPP methods appears to produce more children ready for high school and college than the old methods of social promotion.

The preliminary study also revealed an unusual feature in the way Mathematica is judging KIPP school progress that will undercut another persistent criticism of KIPP data. Critics note that some studies do not take account of the fact that some of KIPP's lowest-performing students do not stay through eighth grade, making the average achievement rate of students who stay all four years of a KIPP middle school artificially high.

In this study, any student who spends at least a year at KIPP is considered part of the KIPP group, not the control group, even if they spend sixth through eighth grade in a non-KIPP school. So if KIPP's achievement rate increase looks good after four years, it will be in spite of, not because of, low-achieving students leaving early.

Read Jay's blog every day at http://washingtonpost.com/class-struggle.
Follow all the Post's Education coverage on Twitter, Facebook and our Education web page, http://washingtonpost.com/education.

By Jay Mathews  | June 22, 2010; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags:  KIPP achievement rates strong, Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), little difference in attrition rates, new KIPP preliminary study, randomized results won't be released until 2014  
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Comments

"research firm completes its comparison of the progress of KIPP students to similar students who applied to KIPP but were not selected in a randomized lottery."

And how about comparing KIPP kids to those who never applied?

Posted by: edlharris | June 22, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Not in Indiana.
Go to this web site to see the results:
http://www.doe.in.gov/istep/2010/index.html

Here's one look at 2009-2010 performance:
http://www.doe.in.gov/istep/2010/docs/Public_Report_Corp.xls

Another thing to remember is that KIPP does not take over an existing school and keep its population.
As noted in the article, one must apply.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if KIPP was to take over and run Stanton Elementary in Southeast. They would have to keep the current population, take any student who moves within its boundaries, and not be able to expel a student unless they engaged in physical assault.

That would be a true test of KIPP.

Posted by: edlharris | June 22, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

There are two factors that correlate very highly with high achievement in school. One is parental involvement and the other is the level of achievement of the other children. Therefore when you have a school that (1) is selected by involved parents and (2) has a population of children with involved parents, you will have a high-achieving school. This is the "secret" to a good school discovered by legions of parents who select parochial, private or charter schools and/or move to the suburbs.

I participated in this myself in regard to my own sons, but I object to the fiction that the KIPP schools are doing something miraculous. They are doing what all "successful" schools do: Targeting a select population of students. By "select" I'm not referring to the number of students on free lunch, but rather to the number of students who have parents who cared enough to apply to KIPP and to the number of fellow students who share such parents.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | June 22, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

The students who are accepted by KIPP all have parents who cared enough to apply and to agree to the conditions. However, once they are admitted the students have the additional advantage of being in classes with other children whose parents support them. Therefore the KIPP students who were accepted into the schools should do much better than the students who applied and were turned away. The latter group would probably go back to traditional schools populated by many low-performing students without parental guidance and support. As every teacher knows, these students can disrupt instruction for their classmates.

Parents are the primary educators of their children. Once we accept this fact, we'll be able to face the big question: How do we educate children who are without the support of their parents? In other words, how do we help the children whose parents DO NOT seek a high-performing school for them?

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | June 22, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

News would be a public school in a poor neighborhood having large number of students that are over achievers.

Public schools are forced to take the dregs of the educational system no matter what, and there is surprise that charter schools who can simply send the disruptive and poorly performing back to public schools are performing better.

This is like saying there is surprise that people living in a house that has not burned down do better than people who live in a house that has burned down.

I guess we need a multi year study on whether people not in prison are happier than people that are in prison.

Posted by: bsallamack | June 22, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Applying to be in a KIPP school is a very low bar for parental involvment. I can tell you that a lot of parents who get their kids in a KIPP school quickly become completely apathetic. From what I have experienced, they are (except for a great core of parents) less involved in many aspects because of KIPP's reputation.

I think mot bashers would be pleasantly surprised to learn that the basis of KIPP's success is very "old-school", and is fairly reproducible.

Posted by: HappyTeacher | June 22, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Ed Harris asks the right question.

If the fight is over the effectiveness of KIPP, then I don't have a dog in that fight. I just wish them well.

If - or should I say when - KIPP outperforms those who applied but didn't win a spot, that will provide some information about another small population of students. But it will say very little about the question of whether KIPP could be replicated much more widely.

To take something, anything, to scale, a host of baffling issues must be addressed and you cite one.

I've mostly been agnostic about social promotion, but I the gamesmanship involved in the way systems decide on grade retention has to be destructive.

KIPP has the option of studying the evidence, setting a policy, and enforcing it. Rarely do large systems have that power, and the result is that teachers and students are damaged by a variety of self-defeating policies.

Originally, the idea was for larger systems to learn from the experiences of charters, and for instance consider emulating KIPPs retention policies. But as long as we have data-DRIVEN accountablity, those conversations will be impossible.

I wish we could have a moritorium on argumentive positions on both sides that make no sense. Jay, this is the mirror image of the charter school in Oklahoma City that I blooged about in thisweekineducation. They are a great school that deserves the ranking you gave them in Newsweek, and they claim correctly that they serve everyone who applies, but to apply you have to commit to a curriculum of Advanced Placement.

So I checked and found out that our NBA team will allow anyone to walk-on. So I guess I'll apply. What are the chances that you'll see my 57 year old beer belly bouncing up the court next year? And remember, if you have high expectations for me, and the coach is committed to whatever it takes, my inablity to touch the rim will be rejected as an excuse, and we should see me putting the same numbers on the scoreboard at Kevin Durand.

Posted by: johnt4853 | June 22, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I hope Linda/RetiredTeacher and edlharris note what Happy Teacher has written. In my experience, having interviewed scores of KIPP teachers and many KIPP parents, and visited 42 of the schools, I see no evidence that KIPP parents are any more motivated or involved than non KIPP parents in those neighborhoods. This theory, which has no stats to back it up, is in a way an insult to the many caring parents who keep their kids in the neighborhood school because, despite its flaws, they know a teacher or two who is good, and know how to negotiate the pitfalls, or are just not willing to risk their kids on a new school they know nothing about.
johnt4853 and edlharris ask the very good question. What if a quality school with high standards was not longer just a choice, which you could reject as too hard, as johnt4853's deft b-ball analogy illustrates, but was required? What if your neighborhood school, your only alternative to KIPP, also had a longer school day and a two-hour homework requirement and teachers who came to visit and tell you how important it was to get with the program if your kid resisted doing the work? We actually have accomplished such a change over the long term in the US. The work required of K-12 students is, on average, much more than what was required 50 and 100 years ago (once you factor in the fact that minorities are now held to much higher standards). It would be tough to have a required KIPP-like program, and there would be tension and resistance, but over the long haul, if the country had the same commitment to that that it has had to raising standards for all kids over the last century, it would bring significant improvement. But we would all still complain that it wasn't enough. That congenital dissatisfaction is one of the best things about American culture.

Posted by: jaymathews | June 22, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Kipp is very important but much less so than an international movement to construct a process by which Best Instructional Practices are routinely analyzed, rated and tweaked to situational conditions. This is all possible now with one transparent website. You might wish to look in on our efforts to launch such a simple Freakonomics (4 mil. copies sold) type solution. This could be a game changer.
For one, it would fine tune "accountability" in the sense that teachers are being held accountable for instructional matters that the Profession has not yet resolved. Does this make sense?
http://teacherprofessoraccountability.ning.com/main/invitation/new?xgsource=msg_wel_network And…http://bestmethodsofinstruction.com/
And, http://anthony-manzo.blogspot.com/2010/05/race-to-top-accountability-leaves.html
Grazie Mille,
TM

Posted by: LiteracyMan | June 22, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Regardless of the rate of attrition, the ability of charter schools like KIPP to enforce the very real consequence of expulsion for not following the rules is an advantage the teachers at most public schools do not have. As a teacher, I want all students to succeed, so I don't begrudge KIPP. Actually, I think that their program has many excellent ideologies and practices. Without urban public schools like mine, however, there would be no place where students who didn't meet the standard at KIPP could relocate. My question: If every school was a charter school, how would charters avoid the loosening of standards that would result from being unable to avoid uncooperative, disengaged and insubordinate children? I'm not anti-charter, but I do believe that they are not replicable on a large enough scale to "save" public education.

Posted by: amcg | June 22, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I think it is common sense that students who spend more time in school will learn more. It doesn't take a KIPP school to accomplish that. It does take funding and the public simply does not want to spend more for public education. I remember when Broad Acres ES in Montgomery Co. was threatened with state takeover. MCPS did much of the same things as KIPP--longer days, an additional month of school, tutoring, smaller classes etc. The existing staff was allowed to stay if they wanted and they received their regular per diem/hourly pay for the additional time worked. Broad Acres saw the largest increase in test scores in the school system the following year if my memory serves me correctly. As a comparison--Broad Acres is less than 1% white, has over 90% FARMS and 68% ESOL.

There were issues in Baltimore with the salaries at some charters which I believe were KIPP schools. They didn't want to pay the teachers at the same rate as regular public school teachers. 60 - 80 hour work weeks are unsustainable over the long term and to use the KIPP model for public schools would require additional teachers and possibly job sharing. That kind of workload would ensure that no one enters the teaching profession. Perhaps that's why so many "reformers" are so gung ho over programs like TFA. High teacher turnover is not a good way to build a school community.

Posted by: musiclady | June 22, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Social promotion has ruined generations of students; KIPP does this right better than anyone. This public school paradigm of 'taking all students' is destructive insidiously, too. Sure you can accept every student, but in any group of people there will always be 2-10% who not only cannot function within the expectations of that group, but need to be removed from that group to maintain an environment that serves the remaining 90-98%. Even Diane Ravitch states there needs to be schools for students such as these. I call this the '95-5' principle: If you have a school of 500 students, and every class period 95% behave appropriately, that means every period 25 STUDENTS are removed from a classroom. NO SCHOOL at which I've worked is structured to manage 25 students out of a classroom, yet must be since you still have 95% behaving appropriately.
The other aspect of successful schools like KIPP that many critics gloss over is their hiring flexibility. That charters can hire whom they feel is best versus who is most senior gives them a significant advantage over regular public schools burdened by typical union hiring rules.
In the National Football League, teams don't criticize success, they emulate it. Regular public schools should do the same.

Posted by: pdfordiii | June 22, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

So, a very large group of late teenagers are randomly assigned to over-subscribed regular Army, Airborn, Marine Corp and Army Reserve basic training programs. Is it interesting, Jay, that those who go through the Airborne and Marine Corps basic training become better infantry men and women? Is there any doubt that those not admitted to those programs, -- I stipulated in the thought experiment that the programs were oversubscribed -- become lesser infantry men elsewhere, even if the programs are filled by lottery?
If you like, we can repeat the comparison at the Officer Candidate school level for 22-25 year olds. Marine Corps OCS vs US Army OCS.

The point is that at this time, KIPP, like Airborn and the Marine Corps is an elite program, with expectation and program costs for the development of matriculants far and above what is found in vanilla schools.

Returning from the analogous programs to the real KIPP: Can it be that applicants for advanced grade slots that open up are filled with students of all ability levels, that students and parents do not self-select?

Posted by: incredulous | June 22, 2010 10:13 PM | Report abuse

"The only thing that changed" was not the way they were being taught. They have gone from the fourth to the fifth grade; a few may have suddenly found more mature work more interesting. Their fellow students have changed; if a student is repeating a grade, no one will know. They are a year older; presumably growth of body and brain may affect their interest in school. The teacher is different; some of them, presumably, would have done better in the fourth grade with a different teacher. The school location is different; not only may the new school be in a safer area, but it's distance from home is different. The school building is different; the air may be cleaner, the equipment may be more functional, or even the color of the wall may be more pleasant. The weather may be different from year to year; more sunny days one winter will produce better results from students with SAD than a run of overcast, drizzly days.

Also, the home environment may have changed. An abusive parent may have left the house. Maybe a parent got a promotion and there is more money. Maybe a new sibling means the schoolchild has had a chance to show greater maturity and liked it. Maybe a problem sibling has left and the parents can now focus their attention on the next one in line. Maybe a student was finally diagnosed as very nearsighted and given glasses. Maybe his diabetes or anemia was diagnosed and treated. Maybe a terminally ill family member has died and, despite the grief, there is less tension in the home. Maybe the child has learned of an interesting occupation he would like to enter.

It's impossible to create a perfect experiment involving human beings. Being human, we simply have too much individuality to rule out all but one variable.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | June 23, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

sideswiththekids - Any of those things might happen, but for it to affect the analysis you have to believe that it happens disproportionately in the KIPP group vs the comparison group. Why would that be the case?

These studies always have caveats, but it doesn't mean we can't learn something.

Posted by: amr11 | June 23, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I had not known the crucial fact that KIPP doesn't take newcomers after their entry-level class. I wonder if the Mathematica scholars knew how important that issue is in calculating attrition, or if it simply wasn't possible to design a research model to address that factor.

If I understand correctly, the study recognized attrition from 5th (or 6th) grade classes, and made adjustments based on the principle of "intent to treat." But KIPP has no intent to treat older kids who could transfer in, so its impossible to calculate the effect of not having to follow that policy, which is another policy that neighborhood schools must educate.

Which reminds me, we get kids transferring in until the last week. And people don't just transfer into the lowest performing school in a state in order to step up their educational game. My guess is that those transfers get around half of their credits for just showing up at the end. Whether they have incoming grades or not, I suspect that half of educators just go with the flow of just passing kids on, as expected, while half wrestle with the ethics of the horrible situation.

Posted by: johnt4853 | June 23, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Also posted on The Answer Sheet:

It would interesting to know how the rest of the curriculum at KIPP is set up; do these students have a good balance of other studies and activities such as social studies, P.E.,foreign language, art, music, field trips? Additionally, how else is the learning atmosphere fostered?
I've read about the discipline aspect,longer days, committed attitude and supportive parents.

Middle school students are notoriously changeable human beings due to that particular stage of their development, so it is important to know what sustains their ability to handle a longer day in schooled circumstances.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | June 23, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

To JM, on his informed response to some comments.
Selection is not about averages. KIPP schools do not suffer the much higher prevalence of disruptive behavior from which teachers get NO support and back-up from parents, real or custodial. Talk to teachers or admins in public system schools whose duties include phoning and following up on truancy and absences. There's a world of difference when the 2nd and 5th back-to- school session for parents results in 60-90% of students being represented to support the teacher, vs 20%. Of course the teacher will do his/her best in the latter situation; but consider the work-load in alternative info-dissemination and securing help from parents in overcoming parents' own student issues, and in promoting resources to the classroom. No comparison.

Using an earlier commenter's analogy: Imagine a professional basketball team which was required to provide practice time and opps, let alone game-time, even and as long as he and his demographic peers continued to "show progress" and "make an effort." Now, imagine a no-cut under any condition policy for access to participation in practice.

I will wager a sizeable charitable contribution to a working public school against your smaller one to KIPP on the comparison of parent turnout for parent-teacher conferences between system public schools serving the KIPP demographic; and I will let you control for / standardize on the amount of notice and encouragement to turnout, so I don't win because of failures of effort in the public system school.

As one commenter has noted: KIPP doesn't scale. I'd say it is up to you to tell readers that and why.

Posted by: incredulous | June 23, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Currently, there are no laws or regulations that can enforce the type of policies that KIPP requires of their students and parents. We might better serve our children by focusing more of our energy on promoting laws and policies that are not only effective, but are accepted by the citizens of our country. Educational laws and policies should reflect what communities and families want, not what policymakers and reformers think is best for our country. If families do not accept the types of policies that KIPP offers, than what good are these results.

I would like success to be measured more broadly, not just on math and reading achievement. However, I give kudos to KIPP for effectively addressing the needs of their students and families. If some families want their children to attend a public school that models KIPP policies, they should have that choice. I, as well as millions of other parents, do not want my children to have longer school days, longer school years, or more homework each night. Unless laws are changed, everyone still has that right, even an underprivileged child who is underachieving.

Policymakers need to listen to their constituencies and develop laws and regulations that reflect their community’s interests. Personally, I believe the amount of education that the public schools are providing to my children is more than adequate. If my local public school adopted policies similar to KIPP, I would consider moving or finding a charter school that gave my family more freedom of our time.

Posted by: daverussell | June 23, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

@JayMatthews:

This comparison is shaky for a number of reasons. First, it does not adequately account for the disparities between the student groups. The 22 KIPP schools in the study had far fewer special education and ELL students. Why is it that KIPP did not reflect the populations at the local schools? As a special ed teacher, I can guess why. Too many resources required and not enough progress on the part of the student.

Secondly, your interpretation of KIPP's attrition is incorrect. While their percentages of transient students were similar to the local schools, the local public schools maintained steady enrollment. That means that that those who left were replaced by other transient students. Since KIPP does not, as a general policy, accept students after the 6th grade, they did not replace their transient students with more transient students. The local school had to accept a significant group of students that flowed in year in, year out. This has no impact on scores?? Really?? As a teacher, I cannot agree with that.

The transience issue does not address those who left BEFORE one year either. That would be interesting given that I've seen that mysterious flow in Philly from charter to public right after Childfind or before the PSSA's.

KIPP does a good job, don't get me wrong. But they absolutely do not do the job that is required of public schools. We take whomever comes in, whenever they arrive. If the rollsheet says 6th grade, there they go, even if they read on a 3rd grade level. You can't blame teachers or schools for that though, that message to retain as a last resort usually comes from downtown.

Posted by: Nikki1231 | June 23, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Nikki, your comments remind me of something that happened to me about thirty years ago. I made an unannounced visit to my son's fourth grade class. The teacher, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate, was presenting a good lesson, but some of the children in the class were extremely disruptive. I recognized one little boy as a troubled child from a "broken" home. I saw how these children kept their classmates from learning.

When I described this scene to my husband, he said, "We can't send our child to a school like that." So I went looking and found a Catholic school with an admissions policy that required my son to take a placement test. We had to sign a contract that made it clear our son had to behave properly to remain at the school.

There were no Phi Beta Kappa teachers at the parochial school but the test scores were a lot higher. I knew why and told only my closest friends who enrolled their children at the same school! We appreciated the benefits, but knew better than to make comparisons.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | June 23, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

sigh. i tried to answer yr good questions and got the message saying i will have to wait to see it posted. here is the short version:
Kipp doesnt expel kids for not following the rules. They bend overbackward to help such kids improve, and have expulsion rates of about one kid a year, less than the number that the neighborhood school ships to an alternative school. KIPP only expels kids whose behavior is so bad, despite many tries at improvement, that it significantly effects the learning of other kids. We have plenty of research showing that more time does not work unless it is used well. Magical theories about kids getting better when they reach the 5th grade have no basis in research. KIPP has more classes in PE, art, music, and foreign language, and more field trips than even suburban schools because they have a much longer school day and year. Many KIPP schools have substantial numbers of special ed and ELL kids.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | June 23, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Mathews,

I would be interested to hear your detailed explanation of "significantly effects the learning of other kids." Then, maybe we could compare whether similar students in traditional public schools are expelled as often as those in KIPP schools based on your definition. Many of the expulsions at high-poverty, urban public schools are usually the result of extreme violence, vandalism or lawlessness, not because the child interferes with his/her classmates' ability to learn. More often than not, those removed are quickly replaced by "safety transfers" from other schools, students who have committed similar infractions.

If this same environment exists in KIPP schools, if violence and gang activity are prevalent, then I am mistaken. If not, it's disingenuous to disparage public schools in comparison, claiming that they serve the same populations.


Posted by: amcg | June 23, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

I should have written "disparage non-charter public schools," as I realize that charters are also public schools.

Posted by: amcg | June 23, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

I like the "elite" military metaphor. The Marines, Airborne, SEALs and other elite military organizations are small when compared to other military communities.

KIPP is definitely a program that cultivates "elite" students, with all of its rituals, indoctrination, and unique organizational culture. Successful KIPP students are "KIPPsterized" (From your book, Jay)

There is, apparently, much to admire about KIPP, just as there is much to admire about the Marines, Airborne, and SEALs.

But what does KIPP demonstrate that can be applied to non-charter public schools?

Posted by: Nemessis | June 23, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

@JayMatthews:

You stated something in your latest comment that is misleading at best. You state that KIPP schools take many special ed and ELLs. That's true?

Then explain why THIS study points out that the 22 KIPP schools enrolled far fewer ELL's and special ed students than their comparison public schools?

I merely pointed out why this is so often the case with charter schools.

Posted by: Nikki1231 | June 23, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Jay,
What is the purpose of constantly praising KIPP’s achievement levels? Suppose everyone agrees with you that KIPP’s structures and policies are probably the most effective way to increase underprivileged children’s achievement in math and reading. How does this help our countries educational system?

My own two daughters happen to be above grade level in math and reading. Many KIPP students may still outperform my own children. I would bet a weeks salary that if my daughters went to a school structured like a KIPP school, they would achieve at an even higher level.

Here is the problem. I have conceded that a KIPP school will allow my daughters to achieve at a higher level. However, I am happy with the structure and policies at my daughters’ public school and the life style it provides to our family. I would bet another weeks salary that millions of other families feel the same way as I do, regardless of what their children’s reading and math scores are.

If KIPP schools were boarding schools, maybe their scores would be even higher. Do you really think most underprivileged families want their schools (like KIPP) to control more of their families time and choice? Maybe they just want competent teachers, adequate facilities, and a safe environment that will enable their children to receive a quality education.

Posted by: daverussell | June 24, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Wonder how KIPP would handle these children:

A kid who throws up on purpose...all day, everyday? Then laughs about it.

A kid, who is smart, but can't keep his comments to himself and continually disrupts the class?

A kid who hits the P.E. teacher?

Or the 8th grade girl who flashes her breasts at P.E.?

Or the 2nd grader who sticks a pencil in her private's and passes it around to the boys at her table? And steals from the classroom?

Or the boy who is bi-polar?

Or the class that the administration put together that has characteristics of gang behavior?

Or the class split between really quiet kids and ones who want all the attention?

Or the boy who walks out of the class without permission?

Or starts throwing paper or beads or whatever at other students when your back is turned as try to you help other students?

Or the kids who tell you to your face that their parents don't care what they make in your class?

Or the kids who lie?

Or those who are always absent? Or tardy?

Or don't do their homework? Or cheat? Or put forth the effort necessary to be successful?

Or the 6, 7, and 8 year old's who cry when they don't get their way?

Or the girl with autism that screams the whole school day? Or the ED boy that can't be trusted with a pair of scissors? Or the ED kid so medicated he really can't function but without medication he, too, hits teachers and makes inappropriate comments to classmates?

This is what too many public school teachers "teach" on an an annual basis....and I could go on....but, how does KIPP handle their "problem" students...besides kick them out of the program?

Posted by: ilcn | June 24, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Jay Matthews....just read your response from last evening...you stated:

"KIPP only expels kids whose behavior is so bad, despite many tries at improvement, that it significantly effects the learning of other kids."

It is not the marginal behavior problems that are harmful to the class environment...it is the habitual interuptions by a few students that can disturb the teaching and learning process. By law, it takes months to address some of these children's problems and find them help. In the meantime, the rest of the "flow" of the classs has been disrupted. That is not the teacher's fault.

If the rules can be bent for charter schools, the rules should be flexible for public schools...otherwise it is not a level playing field...and never will be.

Posted by: ilcn | June 24, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

When outsiders read ilcn's list of behaviors, they may think its an exaggeration. Even administrators who once taught in somewhat similar schools don't understand what happens when you have a critical mass so that many or most of the classes have severe issues. Its one thing to have one or two kids who are mentally ill, or one or two who are Seriously Emotionally Disturbed in addition to the routine load of kids on IEPs, ELLs, and gangbangers etc.

But as more of the more easily educated kids are creamed off to all kinds of magnets and charters, the critical mass of at-risk kids becomes overwhelming. And administrators don't know what to do except to blame the usual suspects i.e. teachers.

In my school, nearly every teacher in nearly every class on nearly every day accept behaviors that would lead to immediate expulsion by our system's KIPP school.

That KIPP is excellent. It has 200 or so kids housed in the building of the middle school of 800 that made Harpers Index after a lunch room food fight resulted in 150 suspensions. I'm glad that the 100 to 150 or so of the KIPP school (my guestimate)who would have gone to the failed neighborhood school are getting an excellent education. When Secretary Duncan drops in and says that it serves the same kids in the same building, however, that is false. KIPP says something about how to serve the other 500 to 600 kids, who now go to a failing middle school that now has a different name, but it only speaks to a small part of the story.

I don't blame KIPP for perpetuating the myth that neighborhood schools just need higher expectations and accountability, but that myth is horribly destructive. I wish we could get Jay to explicitly reject it.

Posted by: johnt4853 | June 24, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

daverussell--I agree with you about not wanting family time encroached upon by longer school days. Some of us provided learning experiences for our kids outside of school whether it be in the form of music lessons, sports leagues, family sight seeing trips etc. I felt the same way about all day kindergarten. I had the choice of putting my kids into an all day kdg. at the local school or a half day program at a private school which is what I chose to do. They were picked up at noon by their grandparents who read to them, took them to the library, museums, parks etc. I felt that to be much more important than anything they would've gotten in an all day kdg. class. For those who don't have supportive families, then school might be a good place to be. I would hate to see an entire system set up on the KIPP model though. I suspect there would be a mass exodus of students from upper income families who have other opportunities available to them.

Posted by: musiclady | June 24, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

ilcn--What outsiders don't understand is that it takes only one kid from your list to completely disrupt a class. My school has a high mobility rate. I've had classes where one extreme behavior problem dominated my attention or kept the other students from learning. In some cases that child would move away during the school year and the class would be completely different. Until someone has dealt with these extreme behaviors first hand, they will never understand.

Posted by: musiclady | June 24, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

To all the above posters who *clearly* are teachers, Thank You!

People who don't want to see how difficult many students are will constantly avoid the discussion around behavior. It's easier to pretend that disruptive students are a rare occurence. The truth is that many children live lives of tremendous challenge and most schools are simply not designed to meet their needs.

I admit that my small West Philadelphia elementary does not adequately meet the needs of some children. These children have histories of severe neglect or abuse. These are children raised by extended family, parents being unwilling or unable to raise their children. We can refer for services from Comm. Behavioral Health (CBH) and try to align families with social workers. However, if a family is noncompliant with treatment, there's very little the school can do except absorb the everyday outbursts/tantrums/aggression from the student and keep others safe.

It's so frustrating to read the cavalier tone taken by Mr. matthews regarding behavior issues. If you have the ability to remove highly disrutpive and violent students, you will certainly derive an educational benefit for others. It's a shame that district adminstrators can't support local public schools in the same way.

Posted by: Nikki1231 | June 24, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Nikki1231

I agree with you about behavior problems being disruptive for the OTHER students. This is the big problem with education these days. In regular public schools, these kids are not expelled unless they have a weapon at school,or, sometimes if they are caught selling drugs at school. If they stand up and scream at the teacher everyday, not much happens.

In fact, often the teacher is blamed, for not building rapport. Some kids cannot handle regular school and disrupt the class for the other kids. If KIPP can deny those kids admission, then that is a big part of their success. Good for KIPP, I say, but what about the other schools.

Have we gone so far for individual rights of each student to ignore the rights of the majority to a safe, peaceful learning environment?

Posted by: celestun100 | June 24, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

The last few posts remind me of my last year in a low-income school in a suburb of Los Angeles.

I had a little girl in my first-grade class who, along with her mother, had fled an abusive father in another country. The child clearly had severe emotional problems and would start to scream loudly and hysterically at the slightest provocation. When this happened I could not calm her and had to call for help. All instruction stopped not only in my class but in the adjoining classrooms when those teachers ran to help me. Also the child's screams could be heard in all nearby classrooms so no one could concentrate on lessons. The girl's stepfather would always come, apologize, and carry her out but that would take at least an hour. This happened several times a week.

This was not anyone's "fault." The parents were very cooperative and were doing all they could to help their daughter. However, from an educational point of view, this child was very disruptive. As a teacher, I had no choice but to tolerate the situation, but as a parent I would not have put up with it for one day. Eventually the little girl was placed in a therapeutic environment but it took almost the entire year for her to be properly evaluated.

Jay, how would KIPP have handled this child? What would you as a parent have done if the girl had been in your child's class?

When I observed a class in England twenty years ago, I was surprised to see a teacher assigned to a disturbed child. Each time the child acted out, the teacher (counselor?) would patiently take him out of class and talk to him calmly as the regular teacher continued with her instruction. I no longer remember if this person was a professional or a paraprofessional but whatever she was, she allowed the regular teacher to continue with her lesson.

One intervention that would help so much would be to provide an assistant for each teacher in a high-poverty school. This person would help with behavior and that would make a huge difference.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | June 24, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I think is important to add here that KIPP does, at least at the school where I work, have several of these "extreme" cases that some seem to think we are clear of. We had at least 6 (that I know of) kids last year that were basically told that they weren't welcome at the neighborhood school anyomore and that KIPP might be a good school for them. We absolutely do not get rid of these kids, we work hard to help them, and we just accept that they might not get turned around in a year or two, it might take longer. So, we come up with a plan that accomodates them, and the rest of the kids in the school. THAT is the key for us, I guess, we have the flexibility to do that. It is an advantage to have such flexibility, but let's please not paint a picture of KIPP schools not taking on challenging kids, the exact opposite is true in many cases.

Posted by: HappyTeacher | June 24, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Happy Teacher...

"Flexibilty" is the whole point....the main issue....the difference between what public school teachers are forced to deal with and what charter schools are allowed to do.

If the way charter schools operate is so superior to public schools...then why aren't public schools allowed more flexibility? Why are we forced to abide by one set of rules, while the rules for charter schools are different?

The truly sad part is that the kids I mentioned are real...more disturbing details were left out...I had most of these children just this year...I don't teach special ed, I'm an art teacher...these children were mainstreamed into regular ed classes...and in my school, it was more than six.

Posted by: ilcn | June 24, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Nikki1231

I agree with you about behavior problems being disruptive for the OTHER students. This is the big problem with education these days. In regular public schools,
Posted by: celestun100
...................................
This is only true of public schools in poverty areas.

In public schools of affluence problem children are quickly identified and removed to alternate public schools so that they do not contaminate the normal public school system.

This may sound harsh but reflects the reality that children that have been severely damaged by years of neglect can not simply be placed in classes with normal children.

In an affluent public school any principal or teacher would quickly be considered for replacement for allowing any individual child or group of children to disrupt the educational opportunity of other children.

Any parent in an affluent public school system would look at the suggestion of public charter schools as an absurd method of providing a safe and effective educational environment.

Posted by: bsallamack | June 24, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

@Happyteacher:

What does it mean "they weren't welcome" at their local public school? They were removed? The law requires the LEA (the district) to provide the educational setting. Surely you know that and your school would have informed the parents that their children had a RIGHT to be educated apppropriately at their local school.


I assume you mean that the parents were dissatisfied with their local school's resources and applied for them to attend the KIPP school. there's no mechanism by which a local district can simply ship out difficult students to a charter without the consent of the parents. It violates due process.

Posted by: Nikki1231 | June 24, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Nikki- What I meant, trying to be as pc as possible, is that these kids weren't chronically and violently disruptive, and the principals of their old schools had a meeting with Mom at the end of the year to suggest that KIPP might be a better environment for their students due to our small school size and focus on consistent discipline. The parents agreed with the principal, so they enrolled with us. Spin that as you will.

Those six were the extreme cases that I know of. Based off what I saw, we have several others in this one grade level that have been very disruptive in the past, and continue to be so. This ends up being a fairly large percentage of students who are behavior issues, but we persevere.

And our "flexibility" often just comes in the form of our faculty and staff doing extra things to accomodate these students. There are no extra resources or policies we have, just a willingness to have a disruptive student sit in the teacher work room with us is an example of the "flexibility" I'm talking about.

Posted by: HappyTeacher | June 24, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

sorry- should read "WERE chronically and violently disruptive"... my fault.

Posted by: HappyTeacher | June 24, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

For ilcn, Happy Teacher has provided a good first hand answer to yr many cases and yr asking what KIPP would do. In nearly every case the teacher would react quickly to every disruption, bringing the child back to the lesson, and then discussing it with her colleagues, whom she has time to consult with every day, to see what has worked for them. If it was persistent, some harsher penalty, like separating the child from his friends at lunchtime, would be instituted, and the parent would be called in. Whatever adults had formed the best bond with the child---the PE coach, the computer guy, the office secretary---would spend some time with him, and all would keep talking and looking for a solution. That is what happens when you have a school, any school,including some regular schools I have visited, that creates a collegial atmosphere and provides the time and resources for teachers to use it. Some of your cases are so extreme that they might severely impair the learning of other students, and in that case the child would be removed, as he would be removed from a regular public school.
for johnt4853--You say:
I don't blame KIPP for perpetuating the myth that neighborhood schools just need higher expectations and accountability, but that myth is horribly destructive. I wish we could get Jay to explicitly reject it.

If you can cite any instance in which I or any KIPP educator said anything remotely like that, I hope you will share it with us. Higher expectations is right. Accountability is not. I don't even know what that means in a KIPP school, though if you mean taking testing seriously, that is one of the things you have to do. But there are many more---more time for instruction, smart leaders with the power to make changes, a team spirit. If you have all that you can make significant progress in neighborhood schools. I have seen it happen many times in regular schools. Google my name and Maury Elementary and you will see one example.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | June 24, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

I think is important to add here that KIPP does, at least at the school where I work, have several of these "extreme" cases that some seem to think we are clear of.

Posted by: HappyTeacher
..............................
According to other articles KIPP boots students or parents that do not live up to program.

Give this ability to public schools and then there would be no need for KIPP. I am sure that private investors would be happy to invest in providing "schools" for the students that could be legally booted out of public schools.

Seriously it tires one to hear all the nonsense about the problems of public education when nothing is done from the first grade on with students that do not belong in classes with normal students.

Address the real problems of public schools and there will be problem in public education. Like it or not a disruptive or violence child tolerated in the first grade and onward in classes with normal children only increases the probability that the normal children will received an inferior education.

Please no more lies from KIPP teachers when KIPP can get rid of the problem students.

Posted by: bsallamack | June 24, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

bsmall - you make it sound like we boot kids at the first instance of trouble. As a former public school teacher ho switched to KIPP, I can tell you definitively that KIPP puts up with a TON before finding other arrangements for a student.

The ONLY student that left this year due to behavior issues stole from a homeroom teacher. Then the principal. Then an assistant pricipal. Then we got her couseling, at our own expense. Then she stole from a school volunteer, and the same assistant principal again. Then we found her a place to get even more intensive help and left open the door for a possible future return.

Posted by: HappyTeacher | June 24, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

If you can cite any instance in which I or any KIPP educator said anything remotely like that, I hope you will share it with us. Higher expectations is right. Accountability is not. I don't even know what that means in a KIPP school, though if you mean taking testing seriously, that is one of the things you have to do.
Posted by: Jay Mathews
...............................
Jay Mathews has to stop with the nonsense.

Anyone can create a top school when you cherry pick the students. Want top notch public schools in poverty areas? Simple.
Simply get rid of the disruptive children that will not "work hard and be nice" as appears on the KIPP website. Let the motto of public schools be "work hard and be nice" else we ship you to KIPP school and you will see a dramatic increase in performance in public schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | June 24, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

bsall- You need to read the article on the study again, and you need to start listening to the people that actually work at a KIPP school. The narrative you are trying to create is patently false.

And, most importantly, what KIPP is trying to do is work as an alternative for some students in addition to the solid job public schools do for most students.

Why do you have such a negative agenda?

Posted by: HappyTeacher | June 24, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

bsmall - you make it sound like we boot kids at the first instance of trouble. As a former public school teacher ho switched to KIPP, I can tell you definitively that KIPP puts up with a TON before finding other arrangements for a student.

Posted by: HappyTeacher
................................
You should write to Jay Mathews since he wanted evidence that KIPP boots students.

Right now there are many children in public schools of poverty areas that will never be booted and do not belong in class rooms with normal students. Normal children quickly pick up that education and teachers are not important when they see daily students that are allowed to be disruptive.

It is impossible to create an environment in classes when the rule is "anything goes".

One does not know whether one should laugh or cry at an educational system that does not understand that children can not receive an education of any value in an environment that simply placates the disruptive and prone to violence.

Create an environment where children want to learn and they will learn. Currently in many cases public schools in poverty areas from early on the system is only creating an environment where children learn to be disruptive.

I can insure you that the disruptive child that is tolerated and becomes the center of attention is teaching the normal children in the class more than the teacher.

Posted by: bsallamack | June 24, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

If what you assert is true bsmall, then I would suggest that is a failing of leadership in the school you are talking about; a failure in the culture of the school you are talking about; and , most likely, a failure in the classroom of the teacher you are talking about. What it certainly is not, is a failure of KIPP.

It is the success of KIPP that we value the leadership of the school, the cuture of the school, and the teachers in a school in a way that allows us to deal successfully with a lot of kids that become "chronic" in other schools.

Lots of public schools and their teachers do great jobs. So do KIPP schools and teachers...

Posted by: HappyTeacher | June 24, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

If what you assert is true bsmall, then I would suggest that is a failing of leadership in the school you are talking about; a failure in the culture of the school you are talking about; and , most likely, a failure in the classroom of the teacher you are talking about. What it certainly is not, is a failure of KIPP.

It is the success of KIPP that we value the leadership of the school, the cuture of the school, and the teachers in a school in a way that allows us to deal successfully with a lot of kids that become "chronic" in other schools.

Lots of public schools and their teachers do great jobs. So do KIPP schools and teachers...

Posted by: HappyTeacher | June 24, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

bsall- You need to read the article on the study again, and you need to start listening to the people that actually work at a KIPP school. The narrative you are trying to create is patently false.

And, most importantly, what KIPP is trying to do is work as an alternative for some students in addition to the solid job public schools do for most students.

Why do you have such a negative agenda?

Posted by: HappyTeacher
...................................
KIPP is a sop to poverty parents. Public schools in affluent areas simply early on remove disruptive children. They understand that it is suicide to allow disruptive children destroy the advantages of education for the majority of normal children in a class. It is cheaper to get rid of the disruptive even if it costs more to set up an alternate "school" for these children.

You are quite right and the majority of middle class public schools in this nation are doing a good job.

But of course the politicians have pretended that the teachers in this country are a bunch of bums. It is cheaper and more politically correct to do this then admit or spend the money that is needed for public schools in poverty areas. I love it that the politicians pretends there is no difference in children and that it should be just as easy for a teacher to teach a child who already knows how to read as a child who thinks a book is something you throw.

In reality I am not negative. The reality is that if we used common sense the problem would be dealt with.

The majority of children want to learn when they enter school. If instead of focusing on the majority of children that want to learn instead of "class management" for the children that do not belong in normal classes, there would be an improvement in public schools in poverty area. But this requires adults that will actually deal with the problem and not politicians pretending there is no problem.

It may be simplistic but one rotten apple in the barrel will change the other apples in the barrel. The apples in the barrel that are normal do change the rotten apple. Even the politicians might agree it is better to remove the rotten apples before the normal apples become rotten.

Should I change by id to HappyBob?

Posted by: bsallamack | June 24, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

bsall - by your logic, we would just continue to throw away children. CHILDREN! At KIPP, we actively, rigorously, and successfully address the issues that plague the communities you talk about. We are sick of kids being thrown away because they do not always conform to some dated notion of what acceptable behavior is in their pre-teen and teen years.

I also think it is comical that you resort to the tired line of funding. ALL the data shows that the most disadvantaged districts receive the most per-pupil funding. KIPP schools (in my region at least) receive LESS money than other schools, yet produce great results by ANY metric. So there is nothing there to be looked at?

You say, "But this requires adults that will actually deal with the problem." Well, we are those adults, so why the continuous slag?

Posted by: HappyTeacher | June 24, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

for HappyTeacher

Here is my agenda for public schools in poverty areas.

Children are tested whenever they enter the public school system. The test notes their academic abilities and also their ability to deal with other children and teachers.

To those who say this is impossible I note that currently New York City tests children for the kindergarten gifted programs, and that also children in other nations are tested when they enter the public school system.

Children are assigned to classes on the basis of these tests.

Parents of children that show poor social skills for school are spoken to regarding these problems.

Children are not socially promoted as there is very little possibility of success when children can not pass basic tests.

Problems are dealt with and not allowed to be swept under the rug. Special schools are set up for children that are not suitable for normal classes.

Teachers are evaluated on the basis of the group of children that they have taught since there are the tests of the child entering the school system that can be compared with the results of current tests.

This agenda will not erase or deal with all of the problems of poverty but offers the best means of allowing the majority of children to overcome the disadvantages of poverty. Over time this will lower the poverty population. Current policies at this point in time are only increasing the poverty population by providing an inferior education. Failure rates of 50 percent or over in basic skills in 4th grade tests in poverty areas such as Washington DC indicate growth in the poverty population.

Programs such as KIPP are not set up for the entire population in poverty areas and should be abandoned with the resources used on programs that will have an affect on the entire population. The idea of public charter schools with a lottery system for the lucky few who win access to better education is repugnant and goes against all democratic principles.

Posted by: bsallamack | June 24, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

bsall - ok, thanks for revealing your belief in modified eugenics. That puts everything into perspective for me, and I can now see where you are coming from. I will not ask for you to elaborate on what you mean by "Problems are dealt with" as I have already seen Soylent Green and I basically know the ending.

Have a good night!

Posted by: HappyTeacher | June 24, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

@Happy Teacher,

I'm sorry but that's comment about disruptive students is just nonsense.

Here's a true case for you and Jay Matthews to ponder:

Go to the Philadelphia Inquirer and do a search on "Grace under pressure." You will find a recent (June) story about the class president of Germantown High. her name is Grace and she was late for school many, many times. Her mom had a reason (a bad one) but Grace was still marked late over and over. The penalty for chronic lateness is that the student could not walk with their peers.

The principal of Germantown HS applied this penalty to Grace. She and her mommy complained to local politicians, the district and the media. Guess what? Our current Superintendent of the PHila. SD Arlene Ackerman REJECTED the penalty given the student which was not only fair, but in keeping with school district policy. Let me ask you: Could that happen at KIPP?

This is yet another example of how our admin downtown undermines principals and teachers. This happened repeatedly under former-CEO Vallas, who routinely penalized principals for *reporting violent incidents*. Again, could you as a KIPP teacher see this happen at your school?

Bottom line: KIPP is NOT a reflection of the communities it allegedly serves. That's why it is tolerated. That's why it gets no political grief. Once you scale their policies to district-wide, you will get push back. You will get it from parents, you will get it from students, you will get it from local pols who want to make their contituents happy. Then, your policies will be systematically undermined from the district. I've seen it happen in Philadelphia. So much "turnaround" is really just smoke and mirrors.

Posted by: Nikki1231 | June 24, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

bsall -
We are sick of kids being thrown away because they do not always conform to some dated notion of what acceptable behavior is in their pre-teen and teen years.
HappyTeacher
****************************
Yes I have a dated notion of acceptable behavior by believing that over 50 percent of children failing basic skills in the fourth grade is unacceptable. I know that I am out of date believing that if they have not acquired these skills by the 4th grade they probably will never acquire these skills.
............................
I also think it is comical that you resort to the tired line of funding. ALL the data shows that the most disadvantaged districts receive the most per-pupil funding.
HappyTeacher
................................
Special schools to deal with problem students are not being built. These require separate transportation.

You really should get your facts straight about funding. There are many public school systems in the United States where spending per student is higher.
................................
KIPP schools (in my region at least) receive LESS money than other schools, yet produce great results by ANY metric. So there is nothing there to be looked at?
HappyTeacher
..................
It would be okay with me if KIPP schools received more or less money if the KIPP schools would be set up as special schools to handle all the problem students and that these problem students could not be returned to the public school system.
..............................
You say, "But this requires adults that will actually deal with the problem." Well, we are those adults, so why the continuous slag?
HappyTeacher
............................
You are not much of an adult if you believe that a lottery system is fair for public education in the United States instead of dealing with the problem of public schools in poverty areas.

If there was a lottery system for hospital resources in poverty areas while the problems of the public hospitals were not dealt with, would you see this as fair and democratic.

Your organization is a sop for the politicians that will not do what is necessary.

Oh and by the way the whole point of KIPP is faulty from the start. To make a real difference in public education for poverty areas you start at the 1st grade and not middle school.

HappyTeacher, your rantings may please your boss but only show a total lack of understanding on your part to the problem of public education in poverty areas.

Posted by: bsallamack | June 24, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Nikki - With your extremely anecdotal argument, you make an excellent argument for smaller school districts, smaller schools, etc. And, you also make a great point against current ideologies being practiced in urban school districts that do a disservice to the populations they "serve".

KIPP would probably not allow such egregious practices, which makes it a great reflection of what the communities it serves needs. It is NOT a great reflection of how business is currently done. Yes, KIPP might receive push-back if applying their ideology in such cases, but here is the trick: KIPP will stick to their guns, come what may.

Hate on...

Posted by: HappyTeacher | June 24, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack says: This is only true of public schools in poverty areas.

In public schools of affluence problem children are quickly identified and removed to alternate public schools so that they do not contaminate the normal public school system.
-----------------------
I'm not so sure that this is true. I teach in Montgomery County and while my school is not in an affluent area, my district is considered to be an affluent district. Problem students are not always removed. There are steps that must be used and their are laws dictating what can be done to place a student in a special class. Sometimes repeat offenders are suspended, but the district has made it a priority not to suspend students.
While I'm not sold on the KIPP structure, I do agree with Happy Teacher that school leadership and a cohesive staff can make a huge difference. Our staff made behavior a priority 4 years ago when we became a PBIS school (http://www.pbis.org). This required buy in from the entire staff and we developed a plan that was implemented by everyone. We all share the students when it comes to behavior issues with the understanding that they all belong to all of us. New staff have to be trained and they are hired with the understanding that this is our school culture.

I've been at my school for 25 years and I can honestly say that the behavior has improved by huge amounts. We still get some of the extreme cases that disrupt. When we do, we use a hierarchy of strategies to deal with the behavior. Sometimes we are successful with these cases and sometimes not.

Posted by: musiclady | June 24, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

bsall :
-If you want to give up on 4th graders, that is your perogative.I know what the data says about 3rd graders and where they end up, but I disagree with those that cast 4th graders aside.

-Students in major cities such as DC, Atlanta, and St. Louis receive a lot of money per student. I'm not sure where you are headed with that argument.

-We have an organizational ideology that says, basically, "send us what you will, ALL students can succeed."

-My region, at least, is first-come-first-serve. And I know KIPP would love to tackle every problem right now, but realizes the value in growing cautiously and wisely.

-KIPP agrees with you on where problems start, and that is why many KIPP elementary schools are opening, with many more on the way. Oh, and the high schools are being rolled our as well.

Peace.

Posted by: HappyTeacher | June 24, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

KIPP would probably not allow such egregious practices, which makes it a great reflection of what the communities it serves needs. It is NOT a great reflection of how business is currently done. Yes, KIPP might receive push-back if applying their ideology in such cases, but here is the trick: KIPP will stick to their guns, come what may.

Hate on...

Posted by: HappyTeacher
.............................
HappyTeacher still will not understand that as a charter schools that can boot the disruptive they have an inherent advantage over public schools.

HappyTeacher can not draw the connection that public schools "can not stick to their guns".

The solution really is to send all the disruptive to KIPP schools without the option of sending these students back to the public schools.

This will provide the greatest benefit to the large number of students that are in public schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | June 24, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Jay Matthews wrote: In nearly every case the teacher would react quickly to every disruption, bringing the child back to the lesson, and then discussing it with her colleagues, whom she has time to consult with every day, to see what has worked for them. If it was persistent, some harsher penalty, like separating the child from his friends at lunchtime, would be instituted, and the parent would be called in. Whatever adults had formed the best bond with the child---the PE coach, the computer guy, the office secretary---would spend some time with him, and all would keep talking and looking for a solution. That is what happens when you have a school, any school,including some regular schools I have visited, that creates a collegial atmosphere and provides the time and resources for teachers to use it. Some of your cases are so extreme that they might severely impair the learning of other students, and in that case the child would be removed, as he would be removed from a regular public school.
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Jay--This is pretty typical at my school. However, I find the notion that extreme cases will be removed to be a bit naive. Where are they removed to? Yes, we will send them to the office after exhausting all the other strategies. This is not a permanent solution, however. Meanwhile in the time it takes to exercise the options you have listed, we may have wasted an entire class thus robbing the remaining students of the instruction they are entitled to. Furthermore, the problem student still needs to be educated. Often we will be successful with a specific plan for the difficult student, but weeks and often months have gone by with a loss of instruction for the others. The current budget crisis will only exacerbate this.
Removal of students to a special class really only applies to those who prove to be eligible for special education services. What about the kids who just lack self control or have other issues? We are obligated to keep them and provide them with a first rate education. This is often difficult--not only for the problem student but for the others in his/her class.

Sadly, Happy Teacher seems to think that many public schools perceive these students as "throw away" kids. Perhaps that is the case in some inner city schools. I can honestly say that in my 34 years, I've not seen that in the public schools I've been in.

Posted by: musiclady | June 24, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

musiclady - I only think that bsallamack's version of public schools would "throw away" kids. I know first-hand the extraordinary efforts that a lot of public schools make. Thank goodness, for my sake...

Just curious, does your district have "alternative schools" to send chronically disruptive students to? My former (urban) district did, and it was a great relief valve to the pressure that all public schools face.

Posted by: HappyTeacher | June 24, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

bsall :
-If you want to give up on 4th graders, that is your perogative.I know what the data says about 3rd graders and where they end up, but I disagree with those that cast 4th graders aside.
HappyTeacher
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Apparently the tests of 8th graders indicates that the failure rates are still very high.
You are not much of an educator if you do not see a serious problem with failure rates of over 50 percent in the fourth grade.

Only a polyanna would believe this can be made up in later years.

The focus on improvement was outlined in my post that you did respond to which put an emphasis in dealing with the problems early on.
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-Students in major cities such as DC, Atlanta, and St. Louis receive a lot of money per student. I'm not sure where you are headed with that argument.
HappyTeacher
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You should look at rates per students in suburban middle class areas of the country and you will see higher rates than in poverty areas. At some point even the politicians of this country will have to consider that the majority of public schools systems are not poverty areas but affluent and middle class public school systems that are doing quite well in education. Of course this might mean different educational policies while the politicians like to keep it simple.
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-We have an organizational ideology that says, basically, "send us what you will, ALL students can succeed."
HappyTeacher
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Great. I always thought that charter schools such as KIPP should be the schools for the problem students of the public schools of poverty areas.

The students for KIPP should be chosen by the public school system and arrangements made to bus these students to the KIPP school. This is far fairer in a democratic society than a lottery. These students will not be allowed back into the public schools without a review by those in the public school of each student.

KIPP might also be able to open smaller schools in affluent areas since it is now very expensive to deal with individual students that do not belong in normal public schools in affluent areas.

I hope you will speak to your organization as this should provide new opportunities for KIPP and remove many of obstacles and opposition regarding public charter schools in this country. By this policy KIPP could have a significant impact upon the public school system in poverty areas. I would be a big fan of KIPP if they changed to this new policy of public schools selecting the students going to KIPP.

Posted by: bsallamack | June 24, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Happy Teacher: We do not have alternative schools per se. We do have a middle/high school for extreme behavior issues but I believe they have to be coded for special education. We are a large district with about 200 schools in the DC suburbs. However many of our schools are in areas of poverty with extremely diverse populations containing large numbers of ESL students. Our district is pushing the PBIS model(the link is in my previous comment) for behavior management and many schools have moved in that direction.

Posted by: musiclady | June 24, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Thank you music lady, that is very interesting, and franly, quite upsetting. I teach in an area of the country that is quite the opposite of progressive, yet we have these schools in place. I am surprised that this is not in place in your area. I apologize, I am not familiar with the PBIS model you reference, and it is getting late, so I will defer to you and your reading of the situation in your district. Obviously the situation is different in my area.

bsall - good night. I have obviously indulged this conversation too long. My bad...

Posted by: HappyTeacher | June 24, 2010 11:10 PM | Report abuse

musiclady - I only think that bsallamack's version of public schools would "throw away" kids. I know first-hand the extraordinary efforts that a lot of public schools make. Thank goodness, for my sake...

Posted by: HappyTeacher
...........................
Wow pollyanna to the nth degree.

The throwaway kids in public schools in poverty areas are the normal kids in the class room.

Only pollyanna could believe that children that have almost been totally neglected since birth can be dealt with in a normal class room.

Currently no tests are done when children enter the public school system even though this nation is obsessed on supposedly using standardized testing to evaluate public schools.

Teachers are expected to use "class management" to deal with children that are disruptive in elementary schools. No provisions are made for psychologists reviewing these children.

The disruptive children are tolerated until they get older with no thought of the effect on the normal children that have to remain in the class with the disruptive children.

As adults we would say that the Army could not allow disruptive new recruits that hinder training, but we accept it as perfectly okay to have disruptive children hindering the education of other children.

For every disruptive child that is accepted and tolerated in a class there are usually up to 30 throwaway normal children.

Wake up HappyTeacher. If you think that what you do in a class room has any educational effect on the children in the class, then think that there is an educational effect on the children in the class when a teacher continuously allows and tolerates a disruptive child in the class.

Children are not dumb and they can quickly learn that teachers and education are not important or desirable.

Posted by: bsallamack | June 24, 2010 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Nikki1231,

Thanks for bringing up Philly. The Inquirer and others have done several great series that explain why the outrages we cite are not anecdotal, but inherent in the systems that set policy for neighborhood schools. And as the blame game worsens, they just attack teachers rather than address the real problems of poverty.

Jay,

You write “Higher expectations is right. Accountability is not.”

Are you offering to do a Diane Ravitch? Should we expect a condemnation of Rhee’s “culture of accountability?

I never criticize KIPP, TFA, the Harlem Children’s Zone, or for that matter, Harding Prep the school next to my house that you ranked 68% in the nation. If I believe they overdo testing, I’m not going to appoint myself as “Superman,” “being hard on adults,” and attack them over a disagreement. Its just professional courtesy. I’m not going to second guess anyone committed to this battle for the path they choose. But when Geoffrey Canada goes wild and spends his time visiting OKC attacking unions, or when the right-wing Republican running for State Superintendent has already made your ranking her teacher-bashing theme, I fight back.

I intimately knew the kids in the 800 student failing school that was in the building that now houses our KIPP. We camped, gardened, swam, played B-Ball, sang, performed and had enrichment classes together. I took them on field trips, visited some of their crack houses, and listened to their deepest feelings at 1:00 am, and cried together after a murder. I have no doubt that KIPP has tithed and done great things with a reasonable number of the kids in that area, and I have nothing for praise for their successes. Yes, being a magnet for bad teachers was one problem at the old schools where you couldn’t even find a warm body to take the job.
My comment is too long so, I'm breaking it into pieces.

Posted by: johnt4853 | June 25, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

It was great that Secretary Duncan praised Oklahoma City’s wonderful KIPP. My complaint was his manifestly false statement that KIPP (that took six years to scale up to 249 students) served “the same students in the same building “ as the old school. It was the same false statement that Duncan made at Philly’s Mastery Charter School. Doubly sad, those successes indicate that we could probably serve the vast majority of our more troubled kids in the same buildings if we would just face reality and provide alternative services for the kids who obviously are too damaged to be served in neighborhood schools.

At the only public meeting for our state’s 1$75 million RttT, I sat with the KIPP principal and several of their volunteers. We were finishing each others sentences. They did not demand $100+ million dollars for data systems for firing teachers. If fact, nobody did. We all agreed that all of our kids deserved what KIPP was able to provide to a very few. As usual in civil discussions, we agreed that we should cut standardized testing and invest in diagnositic assessments, early education, health and nutrition, making sure kids read for comprehension by 3rd grade, community schools, collaboration, efficiently removing the bottom 10% of teachers, addressing absenteeism early, and alternative services for the most troubled kids so that a respectful learning culture could be established and we could replicate KIPPs approach of teaching students to be students.

It was Michelle Rhee’s TNTP, and other “reformers,” as with the other states, who behind closed doors, drafted our state’s RttT “reform” plan for firing teachers. It was the ideology of the culture of accountability that resulted in our state seeking 10s of millions of dollars for data systems and firing teachers, while breaking collectively bargained agreements, and spending pennies to directly help kids.

Posted by: johnt4853 | June 25, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Part three

The Wall Street Journal presented the same calculated, ideological case in a recent profile of our city’s Santa Fe South Charter School, which has zero tolerance so they only suspended 33 kids, implying that they faced the same challenges as Capitol Hill (a school that ranks just above my school as the state’s 2nd lowest performer) which had been featured on “Gangland.” The last time I visited Santa Fe South I sat for a half of a b-ball game with their principal who had been Capitol Hill’s principal (and my principal 17 years ago) He and I had been sent to Phoenix to help craft a deal on pay for performance, collaboration, using data, and peer review. We witnesses the handshake where the district accepted the union’s offer to help fire the bottom 10%. He knows that his old neighborhood school had bad teachers, but that was just one reason why it faced challenges far worse than his charter. He knew the union didn’t renege on the agreements. He new that the union had not prohibited him from enforcing attendance or behavioral policies, or dumping all those felons with electronic bracelets on his old neighborhood school.

This blame game causes real damage. As I have written, the last time we had a kid murdered, we no longer received grief counselors, we didn’t even delay the professional development workshops on “Rigor,” meaning the school just had a skeleton crew on duty when the inevitable gangs fights ripped through the school, and then the system responded not by investing in more people but with $80,000 for classroom management workshops.

So Jay, you would be the perfect person to write “Ms. Rhee, have you no shame?” If she believes that expectations, data, classroom management PD, and accountability is enough, so be it. But don’t demonize others. And worse, D.C. has enough money for wraparound services. Jay, please urge her to stay out of local politics across the country, especially where districts has Black Reading scores lower than D.C’s, and where we barely have 1/3rd of the money per student.

John Thompson

Posted by: johnt4853 | June 25, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Jay wrote:

.. has provided a good first hand answer to yr many cases and yr asking what KIPP would do. In nearly every case the teacher would react quickly to every disruption, bringing the child back to the lesson, and then discussing it with her colleagues, whom she has time to consult with every day, to see what has worked for them. If it was persistent, some harsher penalty, like separating the child from his friends at lunchtime, would be instituted, and the parent would be called in. (They separate at lunch time-nothing new.)

That is what happens when you have a school, any school,including some regular schools.., that creates a collegial atmosphere and provides the time and resources for teachers to use it.
___________________________________________

BINGO! And that is what is wrong with public schools today. And that goes back to administrative decision-making, administrative support, and working conditions (which are cited in many studies as to why teachers leave teaching).

And why isn't there support for teachers? In my situation, even the classroom teacher wasn't supportive (I am an art teacher who sees these kids for 40 minutes a week), the administration's support is inconsistent, and the parents were apathetic.

To always blame the teacher and to assume the teacher has somehow "not been pro-active" or "ineffective" is counter-productive and serves only to harm public ed. In these cases, I did what was expected: called home, sent notes home and followed up with a phone call, conversations with the students, guidance counselor, etc, The boy who threw up constantly, finally had his IEP meeting 3 days before the end of school (when I sent him to the clinic, the AP brought him back within 10 minutes and told me to put him in the corner...where he sang a song about throwing up). The 2nd grade girl's mother didn't care until she stole $200 from her aunt; the boy who continully disrupts was suspended more times than I can count and had never had a child study (he was in the 5th grade and about to go to middle school).

You don't need to tell me about the ills of the public ed. I pulled my own son out of public school and placed him in a private school because he was falling through the cracks. I was also the President of my local, but was shut-down when trying to address the strategies you mentioned.

But, teachers are at the bottom of the fish bowl. While, like in any profession there are good and bad, most of what happens in a public school is beyond the control of teachers-it's about organizational behavior--an attitude that starts with people at a nicer desk.

FYI...I just spent 2 days at prof dev on 21st Cent Skills. The most interesting comment came from a 4th year teacher who said, she'd "been teaching in Va Beach for 4 years, and every year someone has told her how to write her lessons differently-which puts the whole public school debate into a realistic, everyday perspective...I had to chuckle.

Posted by: ilcn | June 25, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

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