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KIPP leaders unworried by test score drop

Fifth grade scores dropped this year at the KIPP DC charter schools. Some people wondered if the Knowledge Is Power Program’s long record of raising D.C. student achievement was in jeopardy. The woman who created KIPP DC seems unworried. She has already made a change that may drive some average scores even lower next year.

With eight schools, more space and scores still among the highest in the city, Susan Schaeffler and her teachers appear as devoted to experimentation as they were when I visited the first KIPP school in a Southeast Washington church basement in 2001. With available space in a new building on Benning Road in Southeast, Schaeffler added fourth graders to what had been a fifth to eighth grade middle school.

The reading proficiency rate for KIPP DC fifth graders dropped from 51 to 41 percent and the math proficiency rate from 72 to 51 percent last year. Schaeffler shrugs this off as random chance, something that has happened before when fifth graders arrive at KIPP with lower grade levels than the previous year’s class. As a whole, KIPP DC students are still advancing from typical urban achievement levels to much higher suburban levels by the end of eighth grade.

With the new load of fifth graders plus the fourth graders, Schaeffler anticipates an increased number of low-performing students that may again depress average scores. She expects those students to respond eventually to the KIPP formula of well-selected and trained teachers and longer school days and years.

Then the KIPP culture may begin to shift.

The network has 99 schools in 20 states and the District. It was started by two Houston teachers in their twenties who began with a fifth grade because that was what they were teaching at time. KIPP became the favorite of politicians, editorial writers and low-income parents for its strong rules for behavior, more time for learning, imaginative teaching and success at preparing students for good high schools and then college.

It also became known for middle schoolers walking in silent lines when they changed classes and quick punishment (usually isolation from friends) for students who teased other students or failed to pay attention in class. Internet critics said KIPP expelled many low-performing students to keep test scores up, but that was false. Last year only 1 percent of KIPP DC middle schoolers were expelled, almost entirely for having weapons or drugs on campus. KIPP retained a no-nonsense reputation, however, which may be about to change a bit.

KIPP has been opening elementary schools, 24 nationally and three in the District. In a few years most KIPP fourth and fifth graders will arrive already at or above grade level. The hard work of raising whole classes of middle schoolers who are two or three years behind will be unnecessary. Some of the tougher rules may fade.

Most of the fifth graders at the original KIPP middle school in Houston arrived this year well prepared by their years at KIPP SHINE, the network’s first elementary school. KIPP national spokesman Steven Mancini says they are “more relaxed, and a little more cocky” than newly arrived KIPP fifth graders usually are.

At the other end of the K-12 spectrum, KIPP has been adding high schools, including KIPP DC: College Prep. It is into its second year at the renovated Frederick Douglass School building in Southeast. Schaeffler and KCP principal Cheryl Borden say they have much work to do. Last year, Schaeffler says, they did not hire enough teachers to address the differences between students who had attended KIPP middle schools and non-KIPP newcomers unused to the high expectations.

Like the fifth graders in Houston, the KIPP DC high schoolers are allowed more freedom. “Seeing kids walking the halls talking to each other, that took me a while to get used to,” Schaeffler says. Those who earn 3.2 grade point averages can even leave school an hour early.

But that has proven a weak incentive. The students are so used to nine hours of school a day that if feels too weird to cut out at 3:30 p.m. They prefer to stay after school with their friends, and make sure they, and KIPP, don’t lose their edge.

Read Jay's blog every day, and follow all of The Post's Education coverage on Twitter, Facebook and our Education Web page.

By Jay Mathews  | October 3, 2010; 6:00 PM ET
Categories:  Metro Monday  | Tags:  KIPP DC, KIPP DC: College Prep in its second year, KIPP culture change, KIPP fifth grade scores go down, Knowledge Is Power Program, Susan Schaeffler, for first time KIPP adds fourth grade to middle school  
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Comments

" Last year only 1 percent of KIPP DC middle schoolers were expelled..."

Interesting.

So Jay, will you share what percentage of DC KIPP middle school students who start in the program, actually graduate? What is the "attrition" rate for KIPP in DC? I'm guessing way more than 1% but perhaps not as high as 50% as seen in certain KIPP programs?

Posted by: Title1SoccerMom | October 3, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

It's stupid beyond belief to suggest that just because a program is too hard for some people, it therefore isn't a good program.

Posted by: educationobserver | October 3, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

This is called SPIN, Mr. Mathews

Posted by: isupreme | October 3, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

@Title1SoccerMom
Can you provide me with a link to whatever your primary source for the 50% figure is? If your not going to give me a link to a primary source don't bother. The sort of thing I'm looking for is like the links below
https://www.nystart.gov/publicweb/SimilarSchool.do?year=2009&ssGroupNumber=65
https://www.nystart.gov/publicweb-rc/2009/c5/AOR-2009-321100010326.pdf
The first link will send you to a web page that provides links to New York State School Report Cards. The first four KIPP schools listed are all Middle Schools in NYC. The reports indicate that there is very little attrition from these schools. The results are very very good for the student body as a whole, but are nothing short of spectacular for students with disabilities. The second link is to a randomly picked public middle school from NYC. The results for this school really aren't bad, all things considered, but they're nothing close to the scores for the Kipp schools.
@isupreme
Accusing other people of SPIN really doesn't impress me. Bill O'reilly accuses everybody else of SPIN except FOX news, which is by far the most biased and SPIN filled of all the major news outlets.

Posted by: david_r_fry | October 3, 2010 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Jay, "expulsion" is just one way out of the school. How many kids leave? We know it's much more than 1%. The kids who can't cut it leave--and are probably encouraged to.

Also, remember this from recent research:

"KIPP students, as a group, enter KIPP with substantially higher achievement than the typical achievement of schools from which they came. ...[T]eachers told us either that they referred students who were more able than their peers, or that the most motivated and educationally sophisticated parents were those likely to take the initiative to pull children out of the public school and enroll in KIPP at the end of fourth grade. Today, KIPP Schools have added Pre-K through 12th grade schools. A clear pattern to emerge from these interviews was that almost always it was students with unusually supportive parents or intact families who were referred to KIPP and completed the enrollment process."

Finally, it's been more than long enough to report back on how KIPP students did in high school--not KIPP high schools, but any highschool.

Posted by: Cal_Lanier | October 4, 2010 12:40 AM | Report abuse

This is a little old:
"As the high-profile Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) network of schools continues to expand, KIPP leaders are taking a close look at student attrition amid arguments from critics that the loss of students at some of those public schools of choice is alarmingly high. Attrition rates at a few KIPP schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, in particular, have recently drawn scrutiny. Fewer than half the 5th graders who entered three new middle schools in fall 2003 are still enrolled this academic year, when they would generally be finishing 8th grade, according to a KIPP analysis. At one of the schools, in Oakland, California, only about a quarter of the students from that 5th grade class have remained. National attrition data on the San Francisco-based network of 52 mostly charter middle schools are unavailable. But information the network provided on a handful of other schools, as well as a review of national enrollment data by "Education Week", suggests that levels of student mobility vary widely across KIPP campuses. In certain KIPP schools, in fact, attrition appears very low. Several experts cautioned against drawing strong conclusions based on the attrition data. Student mobility, they pointed out, is high in general among low-income and minority urban families, KIPP's prime target. Also, they said, many of the schools are still quite new, and enrollment is likely to be unsteady early on, especially for schools of choice with the high demands KIPP has for students and families. Some different ways of analyzing the data on KIPP attrition rates are described."

http://www.eric.ed.gov:80/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ767462&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ767462

Posted by: edlharris | October 4, 2010 1:04 AM | Report abuse

And a 2008 study

http://policyweb.sri.com/cep/publications/SRI_ReportBayAreaKIPPSchools_Final.pdf

Posted by: edlharris | October 4, 2010 1:08 AM | Report abuse

And lastly,
Here's KIPP's take:

"KIPP seems to have high attrition rates for students. Why is that and what is KIPP doing about it?
We find that attrition and mobility in KIPP schools is highest in the first few years that a KIPP school is open, and declines rapidly over time. In some of our more developed regions, like Houston, attrition is less than 10 percent a year, which is much lower than the rate for surrounding district schools. Nationally, in the 2008-09 year, 88 percent of our students returned in the fall or completed the highest grade in their schools."

http://www.kipp.org/faq

Posted by: edlharris | October 4, 2010 1:12 AM | Report abuse

Jay,
on that KIPP FAQ site, I read this at the end:

We will not grow KIPP in a way that undermines the integrity of the KIPP model, but if conditions are right on the local level, there is a possibility that KIPP could partner with another organization to take over an existing school.

I've asked that question of you, say what would happen if KIPP took over a "failing" school, eg Stanton Elementary.

Looks like we won't see that anytime soon.

Posted by: edlharris | October 4, 2010 1:15 AM | Report abuse

Jay, I wonder if there's any comment to make. Kipp is the faked-out display window for the whole for-profit takover of public education, and what they are doing is so toxic they can't even maintain the front. These incoming 5th graders were damaged, they say. Was that by Michelle Rhee's triumphant assault on their schools?

You (and everybody else) already know that attrition rates for KIPP schools are staggaring, so you talk about expulsion rates instead. david_r_fry already knows there's plenty of published data on attrition at KIPP, but he demands links, which he ignores when edharris posts them.

No, the kids KIPP chews up and spits out aren't the type that get expelled. The cherry-picking and hyping reel in families who believe the bait and switch is real. Then KIPP hurts their children, to burnish their lying, cheating score averages. They dump low-scoring students by many strategies, all amply documented, back into communities which have been stripped of their schools and robbed of the resources needed to educate their own children.

Soccermom is right, and isupreme is right, too. How is this anything but spin? You say:

"The reading proficiency rate for KIPP DC fifth graders dropped from 51 to 41 percent and the math proficiency rate from 72 to 51 percent last year. Schaeffler shrugs this off as random chance..."

Data-driven hucksters shrug off the data easily when it doesn't suit them, and you are there to help. Shame on you.

Posted by: mport84 | October 4, 2010 6:00 AM | Report abuse

Edlharris, thanks for providing the links for david fry.

I realize now (re-reading the SRI report) that I recalled the Bay area data incorrectly.

The attrition rate for those KIPP schools was 60%.

Quite the difference from 1%, no?

David Fry? Jay? (Insert sound of my kids chirping like crickets.)

Posted by: Title1SoccerMom | October 4, 2010 8:34 AM | Report abuse

And of course, if the math scores had *improved* from 51 to 72 percent, she would have shrugged and written it off as "random chance".

Posted by: Cal_Lanier | October 4, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Good comments. I will be happy to get the KIPP DC attrition rates and post them as a comment here. (I will take me a while because I will be away from my computer for the next few hours.) Keep in mind the Bay Area 60 percent rate was many years ago in very unusual circumstances, and much higher than the attrition rate for other KIPP schools. The quote from the KIPP web site was closer to the truth. If you google my name and KIPP attrition you will find other pieces I have written on this subject. The most recent independent research of KIPP, on the KIPP Lynn school, also shows relatively low attrition. I recommend, as I always do, that mport84 and others who think KIPP is a sham should actually visit at least one of the schools before they make up their minds. They have an open door policy for visitors.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | October 4, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I look forward to seeing the DC attrition rates for KIPP.

For the record, I don't think KIPP is a sham. I do think your coverage of KIPP, like your coverage of Rhee, is so adoring as to be deceptive.

I also don't think the 60% attrition rate from the Bay area KIPP schools was, as you say "many years ago." The study was from 2008 and they were analyzing entry in the 2003-2004 school year.

I've read your book on KIPP. It's an entertaining story. As a parent though, I was horrified by the practices of KIPP founders. Loading kids in the back of a Uhaul van? Throwing a chair through a window? Lying about the occupancy of hotel rooms?

I wouldn't send my child to a KIPP school. Would you?

Posted by: Title1SoccerMom | October 4, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

One loves Jay Mathews for his distortion.

"Internet critics said KIPP expelled many low-performing students to keep test scores up, but that was false."

No the critics say that KIPP and all the charters have the advantage of getting rid of the disruptive and/or prone to violence which allows them to have class rooms where teachers can teach and students can learn.

Time for Mr. Mathews to stop this pretense since Mr. Mathews states:
"KIPP retained a no-nonsense reputation, however, which may be about to change a bit."

Allow the poverty public schools to have a no-nonsense reputation by getting the disruptive and/or prone to violence out of the school and there is no need for Kipp.

Tell parents in DC that public school X now will have a no-nonsense reputation by getting the disruptive and/or prone to violence out of the school and just as many parents that enter a lottery for KIPP will apply.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

One tires of the fairy tale of KIPP and other charter schools as told by Mr. Mathews and others.

Supposedly Mr. Mathews claims that there is this miracle while he refuses to admit the differences in policies of these schools and the poverty public schools.

The reality is that an intelligent grandmother without teaching credential in a poor neighborhood of DC, would get full enrollment in a primary school paid for by public funds, if she advertised the policy of immediately throwing out of her school those children that were disruptive and/or violent.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I also don't think the 60% attrition rate from the Bay area KIPP schools was, as you say "many years ago." The study was from 2008 and they were analyzing entry in the 2003-2004 school year.
Posted by: Title1SoccerMom
......................
If Jay Mathews provides yearly data from 2001 to the present with percentages and number of students there will be much higher attrition rates at the beginning than 1 percent.

Throw out the disruptive and/or prone to violence in early years with a lottery system and in later years there will be less parents with disruptive and/or prone to violence that will apply.

This is why it is important to see the yearly figures.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

others who think KIPP is a sham should actually visit at least one of the schools before they make up their minds. They have an open door policy for visitors.

Posted by: Jay Mathews
............................
One tires of this nonsense.

It would be more to the point of visiting a poverty public school that implemented a policy of removing from the school the disruptive and/or prone to violence.

Then visitors would see an environment where teachers could teach and children can learn that could be created in the poverty public schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I followed Mr. Fry’s link to the New York data and looked at the cohort survival from 2006 to 2009 for students beginning the 5th grade and on to the eighth grade, and 6th to 8th grade. Kipp Academy: from 72 to 64, and from 60 to 51. For Kipp Infinity, from 76 to 59, and from 78 to 62. For Kipp Amp, from 74 to 55, and from 62 to 56. For Kipp Success Through Teamwork, from 81 to 65, and from 81 to 61. With such small numbers overall, losing this many students will have an enormous impact on overall test scores, especially if the students leaving cluster at one end or other of the test score distribution. I have not been able to find data on the academic characteristics of those students who leave Kipp schools. Have you seen such data, Mr. Mathews?

Posted by: BillMc1 | October 4, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

" I recommend, as I always do, that mport84 and others who think KIPP is a sham should actually visit at least one of the schools before they make up their minds."

Collecting anecdotes is not research.

Posted by: mcstowy | October 4, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"KIPP Academy Lynn Charter School will create an environment where the students of Lynn will develop the academic skills, intellectual habits and character traits necessary to maximize their potential in high school, college and the world beyond."

"Students learn to be active participants in the classroom by following the SLANT motto:
Sit up straight
Listen
Ask and Answer questions
Nod your head if you understand
Track the speaker (i.e. make eye contact), whether that speaker is a fellow student or a teacher"

"Academic Skills - Calculate accurately - Read fluently - Write effectively - Comprehend fundamental knowledge." "KIPP Academy Lynn will relentlessly focus on high student performance on standardized tests and other objective measures."

Note: Nothing about intellectual creativity, critical thinking, imagination, reflection, or independent thinking. Nothing of cultural diversity or tolerance. Nothing about the value of the individual or freedom of conscience. I've compared the KIPP (and TFA/NTP) philosophy to BIA Indian schools. Ira Socol has made the comparison to the British colonial schools. Both models emphasized, as does the KIPP philosophy quoted above, that the students were members of an inferior culture that needed to be civilized and assimilated. The education provided emphasized the skills and values needed to survive (not prosper) in the dominant culture, but never, ever to question it.

Given the choice between the dangers of some inner city public schools and the relative safety of KIPP's cultural conformity, it's not surprising that concerned parents may opt for the latter. But it's a false choice that's been created by the current "reform" climate. And as Ben Franklin once noted: "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

Posted by: mcstowy | October 4, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

" I recommend, as I always do, that mport84 and others who think KIPP is a sham should actually visit at least one of the schools before they make up their minds."

Collecting anecdotes is not research.

Posted by: mcstowy
...................
Good comment since in so many cases Mr. Mathews has asked for data to validate ideas that are different from his.

I am surprised that Mr. Mathews this time is not suggesting that those with comments to buy his book on KIPP.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

"KIPP became a favorite of low-income parents."

Jay, there are many low-income people who are capable and conscientious parents. When these parents choose a school that they believe is superior and make applications for their children, that always results in a select student population. This is the secret of the parochial school, which has been very successful in educating low-income students for many years. Any school with a select population is almost always "superior" (i.e. higher achievement) than a school that is not.

That said, KIPP is probably as good as you say for the students who attend. As a parent who sent her sons to parochial and public magnet schools, I'm not against selective schools but I am very against pretending that these schools have the same population as the traditional public schools. They do not. Just the fact alone of requiring parents to apply to KIPP schools makes a huge difference in the students who attend. I know this is probably hard to believe, but any teacher will tell you that the parents of the "lowest" students are often the ones who don't even know when school begins. They usually just wait until they see neighborhood children leaving for school in September. Social workers or school personnel often have to make home visits just to collect emergency cards. The KIPP students might be just as poor as the students left behind, but they have the one thing that really counts: an involved parent.

Still, there is a huge lesson here for traditional schools. If these schools could just provide help for the children with severe behavioral and learning problems, that would make a significant difference. Somewhere along the line, "public schools for everyone" became "public schools have to accept all kinds of disruptive behavior." If we could just put an end to this practice, we'd see an immediate improvement in all urban schools. State laws already give schools the ability to remove these students from regular classes, but few districts comply because of the expense of educating them separately, or providing extra help within the regular classroom.

If my kids were stuck in a low-performing school, I'd apply to KIPP too, but how much better it would be if every public school could do something about the student with severe behavioral and/or learning problems. All the charter schools are doing is leaving these students behind in traditional schools. That's nothing to brag about.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | October 4, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

"KIPP became a favorite of low-income parents."

Jay, there are many low-income people who are capable and conscientious parents. When these parents choose a school that they believe is superior and make applications for their children, that always results in a select student population. This is the secret of the parochial school, which has been very successful in educating low-income students for many years. Any school with a select population is almost always "superior" (i.e. higher achievement) than a school that is not.

That said, KIPP is probably as good as you say for the students who attend. As a parent who sent her sons to parochial and public magnet schools, I'm not against selective schools but I am very against pretending that these schools have the same population as the traditional public schools. They do not. Just the fact alone of requiring parents to apply to KIPP schools makes a huge difference in the students who attend. I know this is probably hard to believe, but any teacher will tell you that the parents of the "lowest" students are often the ones who don't even know when school begins. They usually just wait until they see neighborhood children leaving for school in September. Social workers or school personnel often have to make home visits just to collect emergency cards. The KIPP students might be just as poor as the students left behind, but they have the one thing that really counts: an involved parent.

Still, there is a huge lesson here for traditional schools. If these schools could just provide help for the children with severe behavioral and learning problems, that would make a significant difference. Somewhere along the line, "public schools for everyone" became "public schools have to accept all kinds of disruptive behavior." If we could just put an end to this practice, we'd see an immediate improvement in all urban schools. State laws already give schools the ability to remove these students from regular classes, but few districts comply because of the expense of educating them separately, or providing extra help within the regular classroom.

If my kids were stuck in a low-performing school, I'd apply to KIPP too, but how much better it would be if every public school could do something about the student with severe behavioral and/or learning problems. All the charter schools are doing is leaving these students behind in traditional schools. That's nothing to brag about.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | October 4, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

"that mport84 and others who think KIPP is a sham "

As others have pointed out, no one is saying that KIPP is a sham. We are saying that KIPP is able to achieve what it does because the kids who drag down scores are leaving the school, and that there are fewer of them than there are to begin with.

Posted by: Cal_Lanier | October 4, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Title1SoccerMom. I detect one small contradiction in yr otherwise very accurate comment. If my coverage of KIPP is so adoring, how did all those bad things the founders did get into my book?

For Linda/RetiredTeacher---Your thought on the quality of KIPP parents compared to regular public school parents is widely held, but it conflicts sharply with the many fine parents in regular urban schools I have met who don't want to send their kids elsewhere and the many neglectful KIPP parents I have encountered. We have nothing but dueling impressions so far on this issue. Until we have some real data (if you have some I have missed, lay it on me) i am reluctant to buy yr thesis. (Yr other point about handling children with behavioral and learning problems is quite right.)

For mcstowy---You are doing that judgment by reading web sites again. That isn't research either. I have seen all of those good things you mention going on in KIPP classrooms. Nobody has come up with a way to quantify what is going on in terms of depth in any classroom, KIPP, regular or private, in any meaningful way. All we can do is go to classrooms and watch, and try to draw intelligent conclusions from what we see. That has to be better than picking language off of Web sites. Somebody used this technique to compare KIPP to Sidwell, and it worked just as poorly. Sidwell tried to make itself look MUCH more constructivist than it actually is.

For BillMc1---The data on the relative academic standing of students who stay in KIPP and those who leave, and the same differences in those who stay and leave regular schools, is thin and inconclusive. Some kids leave KIPP because they don't want to work that hard. Some leave because their families move. Since nobody seems to be defending here the old chestnut that KIPP is throwing kids out to raise the schools' test score averages, I am glad we are getting to a more intelligent discussion, of which yr good comment is a part. If you spend time inside KIPP schools and talk to KIPP teachers, you see they do everything possible to keep every kid there, and work very hard to dissuade kids and parents who say it is too hard for them and that they prefer the easier regular schools.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | October 4, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

In response to Cal_Lanier, I'd like to offer up the most recent Mathematica study of KIPP schools that finds that "students entering these 22 KIPP schools typically had prior achievement levels lower than average achievement in the schools of their local districts. Compared to the public schools from which they draw students, KIPP middle schools have student bodies characterized by higher concentrations of poverty and racial minorities, but lower concentrations of special education and limited English proficiency students."

The study is available here: http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/newsroom/releases/2010/KIPP_6_10.asp

In terms of outcomes for the alumni of KIPP DC, 100% of the Class of 2009 has now graduated high school, and 85% of them are enrolled in post-secondary education.

Posted by: dcteach1 | October 4, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

"Students learn to be active participants in the classroom by following the SLANT motto:
Sit up straight
Listen
Ask and Answer questions
Nod your head if you understand
Track the speaker (i.e. make eye contact), whether that speaker is a fellow student or a teacher"

It’s amazing that anyone would minimize the effect of what teaching these simple skills will do for children who have never learned how to learn. You do learn by active listening, by asking substantive questions, by letting the teacher know when you don’t understand something. These are skills that are not taught anywhere else in DCPS – except individually by enlightened teachers. It’s not just a matter of removing disruptive children from the classroom – there are plenty of classrooms across the district without disruptive children that don’t produce high achieving students. That KIPP outperforms schools in poor areas is not really noteworthy. But the fact that KIPP students outperform students in schools like Deal and Hardy is indeed noteworthy. As for the suggestion that one actually visits a school before criticizing it, it’s interesting that this is relegated to category of “collecting anecdotes.” Five minutes inside of any classroom will tell you more than any poster on this or any other blog about what’s actually going on in a school. Yes, KIPP enjoys some advantages that the average DCPS school doesn’t have but it’s not a sham or some “faked out display” – there is much that many schools could learn from KIPP.

Posted by: tyty1 | October 4, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I am interested in the comment that KIPP may be the precursor of for-profit schools. I don't think there is a conspiracy, but there is so much money to be made, that I have been suspicious all along. Here in my district we have many non-profit charters, but Imagine schools have tried to get in also. Should we be worried about profiteers?

Posted by: pittypatt | October 4, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

For Linda/RetiredTeacher---Your thought on the quality of KIPP parents compared to regular public school parents is widely held, but it conflicts sharply with the many fine parents in regular urban schools I have met who don't want to send their kids elsewhere
Jay Mathews
..............
Jay Mathews personally knows the parents that send their children to the white public schools in DC.
........................
Until we have some real data...
Jay Mathews
........................
You said you would provide the yearly data of those removed from DC KIPP from 2001 to present with percentages and numbers of students. This would be the data that would show information on the problem of disruptive students.

Besides public schools are required to report incidents of violence in schools. Are you claiming that the high numbers of these incidents are false for poverty public schools and violence is not a problem in these schools.

Could we stop with this pretense and let us know when, if ever, you will provide the data that you promised.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

In terms of outcomes for the alumni of KIPP DC, 100% of the Class of 2009 has now graduated high school, and 85% of them are enrolled in post-secondary education.

Posted by: dcteach1
....................
God what idiocy.

Almost every senior class of high school graduates 100 percent of students.

Since this 2010 are we being told that many of those in the class of 2009 did not graduate in 2009 and instead took another senior year to graduate in 2010.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Jay,

I'll admit that you could be right but in all the years I taught in low-income schools, I couldn't help noticing that the parents of the higher-achieving children were almost always the ones seeking something better for their students.

Of course you are right that there many caring parents who prefer to keep their children in the neighborhood school, even if it is considered "low-performing." This seemed especially true of Hispanic parents who were often overprotective, but it's possible that I was mistaken about this observation.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | October 4, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I am interested in the comment that KIPP may be the precursor of for-profit schools.
Posted by: pittypatt
......................
With no government supervision an individual can make a great deal of money running a non-profit school.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

You do learn by active listening, by asking substantive questions, by letting the teacher know when you don’t understand something.
Posted by: tyty1
...................
Yep we need KIPP because teachers in the public school thought that students that were sleeping were learning.

If this is the level of intelligence of the supporters of KIPP it certainly must be a sham.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I will be happy to get the KIPP DC attrition rates and post them as a comment here.
Posted by: Jay Mathews | October 4, 2010 11:08 AM
...............
Jay, it has been five hour.

You said you would provide the yearly data of those removed from DC KIPP from 2001 to present with percentages and numbers of students.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I will be happy to get the KIPP DC attrition rates and post them as a comment here.
Jay Mathews October 4, 2010 11:08 AM
...............
Jay, it has been five hour.

You said you would provide the yearly data of those removed from DC KIPP from 2001 to present with percentages and numbers of students.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

In response to bsallamack - the 100% graduation rate is the 18 month graduation rate of KIPP DC 8th grade students who were promoted to 9th grade in 2005. KIPP DC just opened their high school last year, and doesn't have a senior class yet.

The "Double the Numbers for College Success" report found that only 43% of DC students graduate from high school in 5 years, and of those only 29% enroll in post-secondary ed within 18 months following graduation.

That's a pretty stark difference.

Posted by: dcteach1 | October 4, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

I've written before about Jay adding a caveat in his columns about how he has -- literally -- written the book on KIPP and therefore critics might justifiably claim that he is inclined to view the program through rose-colored glasses.

That is particularly true for an article like this one, which basically says that it's OK that test scores dropped because the KIPP folks aren't worried and if they're not worried why should we be?

Seems to me that he is treating KIPP a whole lot differently than he would treat a similar article about test scores going down elsewhere. I could see an article noting that the scores had gone down and getting KIPP's interpretation as to why that was, but he's a bona-fide cheerleader here.

I would certainly expect something that was more critical and less of a press release extolling KIPP's virtues, lower scored be damned.

Posted by: bermanator34 | October 4, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

The idea that test scores "dropped" is erroneous. The performance of 5th graders this year was lower than the previous 5th grade class. Currently DC does not have a state assessment that is vertically scaled, a longitudinal data system that can match student scores from year to year, or a system for getting DCPS or charter schools the test scores that a student got in a previous school. Each cohort of children is different, without knowing what the 4th grade performance was of these students, there is no way to make any kind of judgement about how that class compared to the previous class.

Clearly, higher test scores are better. But the 4 year outcome is the most important number that KIPP should focus on.

Posted by: dcteach1 | October 4, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Jay--is the research I cited incorrect, or does it simply vary from year to year?

"In terms of outcomes for the alumni of KIPP DC, 100% of the Class of 2009 has now graduated high school, and 85% of them are enrolled in post-secondary education."

Average SAT score? Are they in remediation? Or did the education just allow them to mark time rather than quit?

I'm not at all sure what happened. That's what I'm trying to find out. But I want to know their actual achievement levels, not what their potentially fraudulent transcripts (as is true with many majority minority students) allowed them access to.

Posted by: Cal_Lanier | October 4, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Great comments, particularly from dcteach.

For pittypatt---No need to fear the KIPP network or the many others like it turning into for profit ventures. The many KIPP teachers I know would walk if that ever happened. The for-profit angle is a huge turnoff for educators who want to help low income kids.

For bsallamack---I did not say what you said I said. You should reread my post. You may be confusing me with another blogger. I have asked for the recent KIPP attrition data. Now I must wait for the KIPP people to provide it. They have many other duties that relate more directly to their mission of helping kids, so patience in this instance is a virtue. There is no big KIPP DC headquarters overflowing with data experts. They have one smart numbers cruncher, a former KIPP science teacher. She has a lot of other things to do.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | October 4, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

This is what I have gotten so far to my request. I have also asked for the percentage of students in each class each year who do not return the following year. KEY, AIM and WILL are the three KIPP DC middle schools. The percentages underneath each school name apply to the three most recent school years:

KIPP DC attrition rates vary from year to year.

The rates below are the % of kids who were enrolled on count date of each year, but left before the end of the school year. I have not differentiated between students who moved, went to placement (for Special Education purposes), who were expelled, and who left for other reasons. In no year was the expulsion rate at any middle school over 1%.

Year

2007 - 2008

2008 - 2009

2009 - 2010

School

Mobility Rate

Mobility Rate

Mobility Rate

KEY

7%

4%

5%

AIM

7%

8%

7%

WILL

6%

6%

4%

Also, please keep in mind that KIPP continues to fill the spaces vacated by these students.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | October 4, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

For Linda/RetiredTeacher---Your thought on the quality of KIPP parents compared to regular public school parents is widely held, but it conflicts sharply with the many fine parents in regular urban schools I have met who don't want to send their kids elsewhere and the many neglectful KIPP parents I have encountered. We have nothing but dueling impressions so far on this issue. Until we have some real data (if you have some I have missed, lay it on me) i am reluctant to buy yr thesis. (Yr other point about handling children with behavioral and learning problems is quite right.)

Jay,
I few months ago I pointed out that my district lost in federal court when it provided priority placement for minorities towards schools which used a lottery for entry. The districts point was that minorities were very under represented, and the assumption was that set of parents simply failed to enter the lottery at the same rate. You dismissed this out of hand at the time. It might make for a good story if a reporter would investigate any cases on the federal level where statistical evidence was used to make a case about charter enrollment vs parent ethnicity and social economic status.

Posted by: mamoore1 | October 4, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Irene Holtzman, data director for KIPP DC, says they do not ordinarily calculate the number or percentage of students in each class that do not return the following year. But she offered to get that data together after she meets her deadlines for the annual enrollment date data collections.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | October 4, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

For bsallamack--- I have asked for the recent KIPP attrition data. Now I must wait for the KIPP people to provide it.
... There is no big KIPP DC headquarters overflowing with data experts. They have one smart numbers cruncher, a former KIPP science teacher. She has a lot of other things to do.
Posted by: Jay Mathews
.......................
It should not be a problem of yearly figures. This not rocket science.
They should know for each year how many students started but did not finish.

Besides they are being paid for by public funds and these yearly figure should have been provided to the local government. If not any charter school could be collecting public funds and claiming great improvement with only 5 students when 100 students started in the school.

Of course then there is the question of where the 1 percent attrition rate came from since the attrition rate should be from 2001 to now.

As for time to obtain this data: this column runs for days and so the data should be able to collect. I do have doubts about claims of 1 percent attrition rates from 2001 to the present and the inability to produce data that substantiates that claim.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

I made many of the same comments regarding the "expulsion" rate at KIPP for only gun and violence infractions on another link to this article. As I noted elsewhere, at KIPP, you don't get expelled for bad grades-but you do get "counseled out" which is KIPP's term, not mine. And for Jay to say go visit the school and all our concerns will miraculously disappear, I say, what about all that quantifiable research you're always asking for Jay? (And I did visit a KIPP school once a few years ago. I was appalled by the oppressive, depressing atmosphere in the halls, frankly. The kids seemed like robots in the classroom, while the teachers-all very young and white-taunted them and talked down to them. Oh, and I was shown into a room in the office where I had full access to the DCCAS tests, all open from their packaging and laid out for all to see) Yes, let the numbers speak for themselves, but my bet is on a high attrition rate that KIPPsters and KIPP cheerleaders and book authors touting KIPP don't much like to talk about. Jay, you really need to fully disclose your ties to KIPP and the fact that you make money off the proliferation of the KIPP miracle story. It completely compromises your integrity as a journalist.

Posted by: citymom92 | October 4, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I made many of the same comments regarding the "expulsion" rate at KIPP for only gun and violence infractions on another link to this article. As I noted elsewhere, at KIPP, you don't get expelled for bad grades-but you do get "counseled out" which is KIPP's term, not mine. And for Jay to say go visit the school and all our concerns will miraculously disappear, I say, what about all that quantifiable research you're always asking for Jay? (And I did visit a KIPP school once a few years ago. I was appalled by the oppressive, depressing atmosphere in the halls, frankly. The kids seemed like robots in the classroom, while the teachers-all very young and white-taunted them and talked down to them. Oh, and I was shown into a room in the office where I had full access to the DCCAS tests, all open from their packaging and laid out for all to see) Yes, let the numbers speak for themselves, but my bet is on a high attrition rate that KIPPsters and KIPP cheerleaders and book authors touting KIPP don't much like to talk about. Jay, you really need to fully disclose your ties to KIPP and the fact that you make money off the proliferation of the KIPP miracle story. It completely compromises your integrity as a journalist.

Posted by: citymom92 | October 4, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

At Cal_Lanier - here's a little more data on the KIPPsters (from KIPP DC) 14% are in public 2 year colleges, 60% are in public 4 year colleges/universities, 22% are in private colleges/universities, and just under 5% are in other (vocational, military, etc.). It is notoriously difficult to get high school data on the alumni, as KIPP depends on them to turn it in, and most secondary schools won't relay data directly to KIPP. This will change as KIPP high schools grow to scale. KIPP DC will graduate its first class of seniors in 2013, and will have plenty of data to share on the success of the students it had in its classrooms after 8th grade. Until then, the KIPP through College Program supports, tracks, and reports on the secondary and post secondary outcomes of KIPP DC alumni.

Posted by: dcteach1 | October 4, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Also, please keep in mind that KIPP continues to fill the spaces vacated by these students.

Posted by: Jay Mathews
..................
What does this mean? How can they get rid of one student during the school year and simply replace that student the next day with a new student?

The figures are pretty meaningless without the number of students per percentage so that a sigle attrition rate can be computed.

Also even without the numbers of students per year and school it is obvious that the claim of a 1 percent attrition rate is false.

The data also does not show the attrition rate for the year 2001 to 2006 when the attrition rate was probably higher.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for the initial attrition numbers. Obviously, 7-8% isn't bad. Now can you please answer the question I asked originally in the other comment section: how many kids who start out at KIPP actually finish the program all the way through? Not new kids who filled empty seats, but what is the attrition rate for the original 5th grade cohort through to 8th grade?

Posted by: citymom92 | October 4, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Jay,

I'll admit that you could be right.

Of course you are right that there many caring parents who prefer to keep their children in the neighborhood school, even if it is considered "low-performing."
Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher
..................
You are being too kind when Jay Mathews is wrong.

More caring Americans with families spend thousands extra on houses to move into neighborhoods with excellent schools than caring Americans with families who simply ignore this factor.

There are always the exceptions but the accepted norm in this country is of Americans that are very concerned about superior public schools to avoid low performing schools.

There are no real estates adds for caring American families of a great value home with low performing public schools. There would be if Jay Mathews was right and you were wrong.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

for citymom92---I will ask Irene Holtzman to get an answer to yr good question, which would be in line with the data she will be analyzing anyway. Now as for KIPP students being "counseled out." Could you share with us yr source on that? I know of KIPP teachers being counseled out. If they are not doing well in the classroom, and have not improved after much help, KIPP school leaders will talk to them about other jobs they might be better at, and replace them. But I have never heard of KIPP students being counseled out in this way. It is directly at odds with the way all of the KIPP teachers I have interviewed do their jobs.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | October 4, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

for citymom92---what other comment section. You mean the one with the Metro page version of this column? I haven't looked there. I will try to.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | October 4, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

In response to bsallamack - the 100% graduation rate is the 18 month graduation rate of KIPP DC 8th grade students who were promoted to 9th grade in 2005. KIPP DC just opened their high school last year, and doesn't have a senior class yet.
Posted by: dcteach1
...................
Graduation rate is normally mentioned in reference to High School and not finishing the 9th grade or any other grade.

Your original comment was meaningless and this one is also meaningless with "18 months graduation rate" from the 8th to 9th grade. Yes you can extend the school year to 12 months but I have yet to hear of a school year of 18 months.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

The idea that test scores "dropped" is erroneous. The performance of 5th graders this year was lower than the previous 5th grade class.

Clearly, higher test scores are better.
Posted by: dcteach1
..................
Supposedly if the test scores rose they are valid but if they drop they are not valid.

Imagine if scores on the SAT dropped and there is the claim that these are invalid because the population taking the test is different from the population taking the test last year.

And I love in KIPP it is the performance of students while Ms. Rhee in the public schools would be blaming the teachers.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

@Ballasmack - the 18 months isn't the graduation rate, it's the college matriculation rate. Most national figures report on students matriculating into post-secondary education within 18 months of graduation. The Class of 2009 graduation rate is a 5-year rate, but the 4-year rate was 92%, still well above both the DC average and the national average.

KIPP's mission is to see the students TO and THROUGH college, so tracking the performance of the kids who were promoted in 8th grade all the way to college completion is mission critical.

Posted by: dcteach1 | October 4, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

@Ballasmack - the 18 months isn't the graduation rate, it's the college matriculation rate. Most national figures report on students matriculating into post-secondary education within 18 months of graduation. The Class of 2009 graduation rate is a 5-year rate, but the 4-year rate was 92%, still well above both the DC average and the national average.
Posted by: dcteach1
......................
Great to know now that it took 18 months after graduation of High School to achieve matriculated in a college.

What does this 18 month period signify anyone except students that after finishing high college would not be accepted immediately to a college?

Besides what does this have to DC KIPP since in your previous post you claimed DC KIPP is only this year starting a high school so the students you referred to did not go to a DC KIPP high school?

Schools normally compare the percent of students accepted to college upon high school graduation and not periods to become matriculated in a college. Non matriculated students with a high school were always accepted at night if they paid fees.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

All those wonderful students with great discipline in KIPP schools are no different than recruits learning in the Army. Shape up or go to the stockade. Only with KIPP it is shape up or you go to the public schools.

Let the public schools get rid of the problems and the only need would be for reform charter schools to handle the problems.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Needed: An INDEPENDNT, rigorous evaluation of DCPS and Charter Schools with pre (beginning of school year) and end-of-school year test scores each year, and with data on family characteristics, attrition (by school action and family choice) taken into account in the analyses.

Posted by: jimb | October 4, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Needed: An INDEPENDNT, rigorous evaluation of DCPS and Charter Schools with pre (beginning of school year) and end-of-school year test scores each year, and with data on family characteristics, attrition (by school action and family choice) taken into account in the analyses.

Posted by: jimb
..........................
Why is this needed? Everyone believes the poverty charter schools are better because they get rid of the problem students.

Give the same advantage to the poverty public schools and you will find very few parents that want their children to go to charter schools.

Americans claim charter schools give Americans a choice. But this is like saying there is choice whether American want indoor plumbing or an out house.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

There is one thing about KIPP that has come out in this discussion that impresses me.

That is how they use the harassment of the parents of the problem students to have these parents decide to send their children back to the public school.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

"Also, please keep in mind that KIPP continues to fill the spaces vacated by these students."

Yes, but they aren't compared in the test score evaluations for year to year improvement.

Jay, if they know enough to know that the kids went to college, they are doing follow up surveys. Which means they should know whether those kids are in remediation or not, what their SAT scores are, and so on.

Posted by: Cal_Lanier | October 4, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

The rates below are the % of kids who were enrolled on count date of each year, but left before the end of the school year. I have not differentiated between students who moved, went to placement (for Special Education purposes), who were expelled, and who left for other reasons. In no year was the expulsion rate at any middle school over 1%.
Posted by: Jay Mathews in regard to figures from DC KIPP
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Special Ed students are not sent to KIPP but it looks like KIPP expels student by claiming that they are special Ed students. These students should be in the count of expelled students.

For quite some time Special Ed has been used for the disruptive and/or prone to violence.

One thing everyone is forgetting that simply the right to expel is powerful.

Imagine a situation where workers are continuously goofing off. Fire the worst one and you will see less goofing off.

Not much chance of getting a child to change their behavior if there is no reason to change.

Walk into a school and find the most disruptive student. Publicly remove that student from class and expel that student from the school, and the next day every student will understand that there is a penalty for disruptive behavior and have a reason to not be disruptive.

Just the ability to expel students is powerful.

Why, when it comes to children do so many believe that ideas relating to adult behavior do not apply?

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

How to make public schools just as good as charter schools.

Imagine public school A where parents have to sign up for a lottery to attend.

Every year A can remove at any time during the school year 5 percent of the worst problem students.

In future years parents with problem children will not even apply for the lottery since they understand that even if their child is accepted they will be removed from the school.

Students that go to public school A will want to perform to remain in public school A.

After 5 years public school A will be the best school in the public school system.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 4, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

The information that fifth-grade test scores dropped this year in KIPP charter schools really shouldn’t be any great news. The reason that it does raise eyebrows is the fact that so many people who don’t know what they are talking about have pumped up the KIPP program as some kind of magic cure for education. Well, it is not and never was, and if it takes a drop in test scores to make some people wake up, so be it!

Please understand. KIPP has a very important niche in education, but it is very small compared to all the students that go to school. A vast majority of those students are also very, very successful, but are politically ignored because they do not provide an excuse for the educational reform industry.

Maybe next year the scores will go up because education is about people and every year there will be fluctuations.

Posted by: jdman2 | October 4, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

I just can't help but think that KIPP would be yelling out loud if the test scores went up instead of down. Funny how test scores don't seem all that important any more when they don't say what you want them to say.

Posted by: teach1 | October 4, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

@edlharris, thank for providing the links. The first link was to an abstract for a non-peer reviewed study, but the second link was very good. This study seemed to be very professionally done and on the whole I would have to say the results were very positive for KIPP. The attrition rate looks bad but it wasn't that much worse than the school districts they served, and they were still in the start up phase in the time period covered by the early years of the study. In any case Jay's statistics offer more evidence that the attrition rate for KIPP schools probably is overall pretty good.
--------
For people complaining about charter schools being "for profit".
In New York State at least for profit companies can't start charter schools.
http://www.newyorkcharters.org/openOverview.htm
"In New York State, teachers, parents, school administrators and community residents, or any combination thereof, can submit an application to establish a charter school. These eligible applicants may file the application in conjunction with a college, university, museum, educational institution, or a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation."
I'm not aware of any states that allow for profit companies to just come in and set up charters. If anybody thinks there are states that allow that could you provide me a link to a government site supporting your claim.
---
Based on everything I've read here and elsewhere I'd have to say that not only are KIPP schools better than comparable traditional public schools in the same district but better than most of the other charter schools. I'd also like to remind people that almost all the charter schools in this country are in districts that were failing the types of students who flocked to charter schools when they became available. And in the district where I've looked at the results not only are the charter schools higher performing than there corresponding traditional public schools, but those traditional public schools have dramatically improved in their own right since they started getting some competition, if they didn't close down first. I don't have any studies to quote to back this up, I just went and looked at past school report cards when they were available.
_______
@BillMc1
You probably realize this but only the second set of numbers for each school really is indicative of the attrition rate. I agree with what you say about wondering what the data is for the kids who left the schools. It would be nice if there was some way of tracking kids through the educational system. I know in Albany this has been a real problem, even to the point of not being able to track where some of the kids are. Kids will show up for school at the start of the year then just stop coming - and I'm talking about grade school kids. The school will try to call the parent, but they won't be able to make contact with the number the parent gave them. If the economy turns around they should set up some sort of way to track these kids.

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Posted by: shankartripathi85 | October 5, 2010 5:09 AM | Report abuse

“ 'Seeing kids walking the halls talking to each other, that took me a while to get used to,' Schaeffler says." (You have got to be kidding.) "Schaeffler anticipates an increased number of low-performing students that may again depress average scores. She expects those students to respond eventually to the KIPP formula of well-selected and trained teachers and longer school days and years." (SCORES? FORMULA? What exactly does "well-selected and trained" mean when the "formula" is based on "scores"?.......Surprised by young adoloscents talking to one another.....worried about new students depressing scores.....expecting them to respond eventually to the KIPP "formula".......Is this really how we want children educated? Will this really prepare them for a world where critical thinking, creativity, rich communication skills, teamwork, resourcefulness, adaptability and flexibility will be necessary to compete, collaborate, contribute, succeed.....Even developing countries and the economic powerhouse China are moving away from this kind of formulaic, test-score-driven education. (And we already know how Finland, at the TOP, purposefully DOES NOT follow this path, at 40% less cost per student, by the way.) Why are so many blind to the hazards of this deepening trend of going BACKWARDS in the United States? And that those most exposed to this backward trend are our low-income children?

Posted by: AWCG | October 5, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

tyty1

You must be a Calvinist missionary.

Posted by: mcstowy | October 5, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

dcteach1

You realize, of course, that Mathamatica is a bought and paid for arm of the education privatization movement (better known as "reform"). Their research has no validity and their conclusions are often at odds with their own data. Using Mathamatica data for education is like using Heritage studies on Obama policy or Brookings on Bush. Inherently suspect.

Posted by: mcstowy | October 5, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I might suffer from some of the above confusion about figuring out attrition rates. The way I read these numbers, attrition is used to indicate that students have left, not necessarily that they have left and the class size is dwindling. I know that KIPP schools have long, long waiting lists, and even if a student leaves in the middle of the year, the slot will be filled quickly. In other words, if a school has 50 sixth-graders and an annual attrition rate of 10 percent, at the end of eighth grade 15 students would have departed-- and been replaced. Still 50 students You can't even know for sure if the 15 who left over the three years had all been in that original 5th grade group. Some of the departures might have been students who were themselves replacements. Some students might leave a school and then return.

So, bsallamack, I don't think coming up with attrition numbers is a simple subtraction problem. Besides, today is Official Count Day at schools. Please be patient.


About the 60% attrition rate at the Bay Area Kipp Schools: it's really high, as the schools realized (according to the SRI report linked above). A year before the end of the four-year span (2003-06) report, the schools asked the families of the 300 departing students why they left KIPP. Three out of seven said it was because the family moved (the real estate nonsense hit the Bay area earlier and harder than it hit here), two out of seven because KIPP "was not a good fit," and two out of seven for other reasons.

Other things to consider:
--The 60% attrition rate was for the 5th grade class that started in 2003, and covered 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.
--In the first year of the report (2003) three of the schools were brand-spanking new and the fourth had been reconstituted and moved after one year of operation. The fifth Bay Area KIPP school opened in 2004. Doubtless, there were some growing pains, some rejiggering, and some discordance between what the founding parents expected their school to be and how the school actually operated.
--With a student population that runs from grades 5-8 (5-7 at one of the schools), the Bay Area KIPP schools are a hybrid of upper elementary/junior high. The end of sixth grade is a transition when parents can rethink school options, and maybe after their child's two years at a KIPP school (maybe good years, maybe not so good years), they'd choose to send their child to a different school.

Posted by: gardyloo | October 5, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

For mcstowy---You are doing that judgment by reading web sites again.

I chose KIPP Lynn because you cited it as a model. Are you suggesting that someone hacked into the KIPP web page and changed the language from an appropriate and dynamic educational philosophy to one that describes a philosophy that provides the barest semblance of an education while enforcing a behavioral program aimed at ensuring a docile underclass? Or perhaps, KIPP really provides a dynamic education that encourages critical thinking, but puts a punitive mission statement that claims it has a method of controlling the children of the dangerous poor (Much like the philosophy of the first juvenile courts in the early 1900's; poor immigrant children could only be "saved" if they were removed from their families so that the corrupting influence of their parents could be overcome.) on its website in an effort to attract interest from corporate and wealthy donors? Either way, you're claiming their website is a hoax and they really provide a better education than they advertise. Why would they do that?

Posted by: mcstowy | October 5, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

tyty1

You must be a Calvinist missionary.

Posted by: mcstowy

Why must I be a Calvinist missionary? For suggesting that teaching kids how to pay attention in class actually helps them learn the material? Sad that much of what passes for debate here is reduced to labelling and name-calling.

Posted by: tyty1 | October 5, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Based on everything I've read here and elsewhere I'd have to say that not only are KIPP schools better than comparable traditional public schools in the same district but better than most of the other charter schools.
Posted by: david_r_fry
......................
We all know the poverty charter schools are better than the poverty public schools.

Give any school the ability to expel the problem students and this school will be better than any school that can not expel students.

If the poverty public schools were allowed to send to poverty charter schools the problem students and the poverty charter schools were not allowed to send them back without approval of the poverty public schools there would be an immediate improvement in the poverty public schools.

In the past there have been cases of vast improvements in public schools when the problem students were expelled so it is no surprise that a school does better when it can expel the problem students.

Why is it so difficult for Americans to understand why the poverty charter schools are inherently better than poverty public schools?

The reality is that I am just tired of reading the clap trap of the boosters of poverty charter schools as though they are miracle schools when the reality is that they have an inherent advantage over the poverty public schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 5, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

You are doing that judgment by reading web
Posted by: Jay Mathews
......................
Jay Mathews should recognize that he is a booster of schools that do not have the requirement of providing any verifiable publicly available data.

He and these schools can make any claims they want without any verifiable data to substantiate these claims.

These schools have made a claim of only expelling 1 percent of students while they expel students with the claim that these students need special ed and do not include these students in their count of students expelled.

It already clear that in this area alone these schools are making false claims and the expulsion rates is higher than 1 percent.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 5, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

This comment section is so full of charter bashers that I could be forgiven for thinking that charters are evil entities that are sucking out the precious brains of little children and turning them into robots. I'm guessing most of these posters have never sent a child to a charter or been in one themselves. I worked for over 2 years in a prominent charter school in DC (no, I will not name it) and I can categorically state there is no "ah, he got a D so let's push him out." Likewise with expulsions. I was on our discipline committee for the severe infractions that resulted in expulsion and those decisions are not taken lightly. Often, we would send students back to school who had assaulted teachers and fellow students. The only true no tolerance was for drug and weapon offenses. However, we kept many kids who had small knives on them. Charter schools are like any other public schools. There are teachers in the classroom and students learning. I'm so tired of the demonization of charter schools. It's an old canard and needs to stop. Charters are public schools. End of story. The other canard that annoys me is the "our schools have no resources!" Do you not realize that most children in the world are lucky to even attend school? Many sit on the dirt and use sticks for pencils. Many have to walk miles to get to school and most have some sort of job helping the family either before or after school. We pour TONS of resources into our public schools. The motivation for many students and families is just not there. It is not PC and hard to accept but it is true. Oh, and many of those kids who attend schools we would consider unbelievably substandard grow up and come here as engineers, doctors, etc. The broken record of charters suck and the thousands and thousands we spend per child is not enough really needs to be retired, once and for all.

Posted by: lafilleverte | October 5, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

tyty1

SLANT does not teach kids how to pay attention, it teaches them to behave in a way the adults in authority demand. It's identical to the behavioral norms imposed by early Calvinist ministers on young children, and reinforced by their parents, through day-long church services to demonstrate their salvation by grace. Any variance from the strict behavioral norm; sit upright, listen, nod, etc. was an indication that the child had not received salvation by the grace of God and could be shunned. Similar to the way it works in KIPP.

Cognitive psychologists know that children learn in different ways and with different behavioral indicators, but all that is lost on KIPP's TFA-inspired founders, who learned all they need to know about education in 2 years as interns in Houston. None of my children would survive a day in a KIPP school under SLANT, but it would succeed in killing their love of learning.

I've compared KIPP to BIA schools, here' another one from my own field: In the 1800's the industrial revolution filled American cities with the children of poor immigrants. In most families both parents were forced to work long hours away from their children. This led to the birth of the "child savers," mostly rich women with nothing better to do. Of course their prescription for the desperate situation of poor inner-city children was not to address the low wages that lead to their poverty and neglect, but to sponsor institutions, juvenile courts and reform schools to "save" the immigrant children from the corrupting influence of their poor, immigrant parents. Of course their "reforms" emphasized the superior values of the dominant culture; hard work and productivity (ironic of women who had never worked themselves), to better feed docile child-laborers to the factories and mines. Only the growth of the union movement ended the abuse of poor children in the name of "saving" them.

Posted by: mcstowy | October 5, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

lafilleverte

Spoken like a true, 19th-century child-saver, come to civilize the unwashed and save them from their families, even though they'll never appreciate your act of charity.

Posted by: mcstowy | October 5, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Thank you mcstowy. I appreciate your concern (sarcasm). Denying the fact that family motivation makes a difference is to stick one's head in the sand. In addition to working at the school, I tutored one on one with many students. I also tutor through a private program where parents pay. It is obvious which students try harder. I'm not judging but rather am cognizant of the difference that having an involved family makes. Obviously there are caring parents in poorly performing schools. No one disuptes that. However, there is a reason why students as a whole in suburban areas are more motivated than those in urban areas. If your parents/guardians don't value education, you won't either. I know many immigrants whose parents have always said "education first." No tv, movies, video games, etc. until school work is finished. In fact, we saw this at work in our schools. Our Hispanic English language learners consistently outperformed the African American students in every grade and subject. Most of those students had parents who didn't even speak English so were unable to help with homework. The difference was that the parents constantly reminded the children that they came here to give them a better life. They made sure the children knew what the priority was. If this knowledge makes me straight from the 19th century, then so be it.

Posted by: lafilleverte | October 5, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

mcstowy--

SLANT is essential because some students haven't much experience with discourse, either as a participant or even a witness. They are likely to shout out over speakers, engage in their own conversations, jump up and run out of the room. Their experience at home may consist of being alternately lectured and ignored. It's a matter of respecting the speaker, whether that speaker be a teacher explaining how to use an adverb wisely or classmate in morning circle sharing, in a monotone, most of the plot of Ironman 2.

Your like to link KIPP methods to Calvinist indoctrination and Prussian-tinged Gilded Age education models. I just don't see it. But then again, because of my edumacation I am no doubt lacking in the dynamic critical thinking whatchamacallit. I looked at the KIPP Lynn Academy website, but I just guess I missed the part of the mission statement about making the underclass docile. Hey, wait a minute! Maybe I HAVE BEEN BRAINWASHED! Maybe it's like "The Matrix," only worse! "The Matrix" with two hours of homework every day!

Just examine this quandary: the A in SLANT stands for "ask and answer questions." Where in Calvinist doctrine, pray tell, is the asking of questions encouraged? KIPP students get to ask questions, such as, "What if a Venus fly-trap grew legs?" or "Why didn't George Washington take better care of his teeth?" or "Why can't that person just get out of our way and let us learn."

Posted by: gardyloo | October 5, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Nice posts by gardyloo and lafilleverte.

For AWCG--that Schaeffler remark about getting used to kids talking in the halls was humor. She knew I knew that she and her team wanted that to happen. I assume most readers like some of that in their readings. If not, let me know, and i will start marking it in some way, with (ha ha)s or something.

Mcstowy, as usual, asks an excellent question. Why would KIPP Lynn put up language that describes only the rigor of their method and not the breadth and depth? I know the KIPP Lynn school leader pretty well. I will send yr excellent query to him and post what he says.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | October 5, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

"However, there is a reason why students as a whole in suburban areas are more motivated than those in urban areas. If your parents/guardians don't value education, you won't either."

Posted by: lafilleverte

Perhaps the reason is that it doesn't work that way. The unemployment rate for blacks with college degrees or higher is more than twice that for whites and Asians and almost that high (about 70% higher) than for college-educated Hispanics.
Families that have been here longer than one generation know that the myth of class mobility is just that. The lone exception in American history was during the New Deal and Great Society, when unions ensured fair wages, marginal tax rates topped 70%, providing adequate funding, and force bussing ensured integration and equal resources.

"KIPP students get to ask questions, such as, "What if a Venus fly-trap grew legs?" or "Why didn't George Washington take better care of his teeth?" or "Why can't that person just get out of our way and let us learn."

Posted by: gardyloo

Do they get to ask "Why are you enforcing classroom behavior that violates everything we've learned about emotional, cognitive, and social development through psychological research over the last 30 years?"

"Mcstowy, as usual, asks an excellent question. Why would KIPP Lynn put up language that describes only the rigor of their method and not the breadth and depth? I know the KIPP Lynn school leader pretty well. I will send yr excellent query to him and post what he says."

Posted by: Jay Mathews

Follow the money. Corporate money loves punitive behavior modification for the dangerous poor. They're supported juvenile boot camps 20 years after we learned that they actually increase recidivism, but they love the idea of those inner-city "thugs" being forced to do push-ups by a sadistic drill-sergeant wannabe.


Posted by: mcstowy | October 5, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Jay;
While you're in the neighborhood, how about looking into Brockton HS, just up the road from Lynn. A public school with over 4000 (mostly poor) students (so much for the Gates "small schools" initiative, and much of the pro-charter movement) that is now among the top 10% of MA high schools thanks to the work of those lazy, unionized teachers? Or better yet, look down the road the Richmond PS. Those are success stories that translate nicely to other urban public school systems, unlike the KIPP charter model.

Posted by: mcstowy | October 5, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: mcstowy

"Do they get to ask 'Why are you enforcing classroom behavior that violates everything we've learned about emotional, cognitive, and social development through psychological research over the last 30 years?'"

Ah, the whole child. Imagine this child as a sunflower. It needs good soil (social development) for the roots to hold. It needs sweet rainfall (emotional development) to send out the wide leaves which catch the sun. And yes, the sunlight (cognitive development)--and please forgive the fact that for this analogy the sunflower sports a central nervous system--the sunlight makes the world known to the plant so it can bloom and turn its face toward the source of light.

A wonderful vision, but how does it work in a classroom with 28 children? Is each student coded with a badge to show the emotional, social, and cognitive needs of the child (the number 3 on a blue rectangle means "good on facts/weak on concepts/abandonment anxiety/passive-aggressive tendencies"). Does this dictate the seating chart? Does the teacher, in every one-on-one exchange, have to contemplate what the most effective communication strategy would be for all of these variables?

And isn't that what the best teachers do already? And if you have a school which has a lot of these teachers on its staff, does it really matter if the students have to line up quietly or risk losing lunch time? Can't these things exist in the same universe?

Does the existence of rules imply loss of self?

Do we stand, on this day, in a field of sunflowers?

Posted by: gardyloo | October 5, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

"And isn't that what the best teachers do already? And if you have a school which has a lot of these teachers on its staff, does it really matter if the students have to line up quietly or risk losing lunch time? Can't these things exist in the same universe?"

Posted by: gardyloo

Good question. You can have good teachers, or you can have SLANT. You choose what's best for your kids. BTW, this is not the way they do it in Richmond PS, and their results are way better than KIPP. From the 2007 Virginia SOL, 5th Grade Reading Pass Rate: Richmond, 87%, Fairfax, 87% a tie. Further breakdown: 5th grade pass rate for black students; Richmond, 86%, Fairfax, 75%; for white students; Richmond, 98%, Fairfax 96%. Achievement gap: Richmond; 12%, Fairfax; 21%. Has any KIPP school matched the success of the Richmond Public School System? Why are we arguing over a niche charter school when we have an entire successful inner-city public school system to use as a model?

Posted by: mcstowy | October 5, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

"SLANT is essential because some students haven't much experience with discourse, either as a participant or even a witness."

Posted by: gardyloo

This is the point of my previous post. You imply that inner-city poor kids need the punitive SLANT system because they can't perform like kids from the suburbs without it. But inner city kids in Richmond outperform kids from the wealthy suburb of Fairfax County. Without KIPP and without SLANT (or TFA, or Charters, or mayoral control, or teacher-bashing). So where's the movie? I guess "Waiting for the Professional Educators" is a bad title?

Posted by: mcstowy | October 5, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

"A wonderful vision, but how does it work in a classroom with 28 children? Is each student coded with a badge to show the emotional, social, and cognitive needs of the child (the number 3 on a blue rectangle means "good on facts/weak on concepts/abandonment anxiety/passive-aggressive tendencies"). Does this dictate the seating chart? Does the teacher, in every one-on-one exchange, have to contemplate what the most effective communication strategy would be for all of these variables?"

It works in a classroom of 28 or 50, but better in a smaller class. In any case, this is what professional educators do. I know, I know, you can't learn how to do this in a 5-week training program, but Teachers do it every day, without even realizing it. You can force the kids to conform to your expectations, or you can teach them to raise their own.

Posted by: mcstowy | October 5, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

@mcstowy,
From http://www.brocktonpublicschools.com/page.cfm?p=84
"Brockton High School remains a comprehensive high school while establishing smaller learning communities."
This is a strategy that has been established successfully in a number of traditional public high schools around the country, usually in mid and small sized cities with only one public high school. There are 4 "houses" at Brockton, each with its own separate building and one smaller alternative school in another building that it shares with administrative units. In any case I don't think that many people would claim that there is a direct causal relationship between the size of a school and its effectiveness. There is ample statistical evidence, however, that in most circumstances once a school gets over a certain size the performance of the students tends to go down. This happens because in larger schools certain things that lead to poor performance are more likely to happen than in small schools. I'd be willing to bet that if all 4000+ students at Brockton HS were in one large building that had no further administrative breakdown that their performance wouldn't be as good. Also there is nothing inherently wrong with teachers unions as long as they don't make protecting bad teachers their primary function. From what I understand the teachers union at Brockton has effectively self policed itself to bring bad teachers up to snuff or to force them out. They didn't wait for something like this to be imposed from the outside. The other thing unique to Brockton as far as I know is that every class at the High School makes literacy a priority. Even math classes make it a priority. In past years at Albany High School in New York if the school had tried to implement something like that the teachers union would have stepped in and said "nothing doing - that doesn't fit a math teacher's job description". Any kid who couldn't read at something close to grade level by 9th grade would have been sent to the school district's equivalent of the "dog pound", with no books and an uncertified permanent substitute, to rot until the kid just gave up and just dropped out.

Posted by: david_r_fry | October 5, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

For mcstowy---thanks for the good suggestions for regular schools to visit, places that are not charters but shine because of great teachers, all union members. I also like schools like that. Three of my books are about them. I have only done one book about charters.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | October 6, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

"Also there is nothing inherently wrong with teachers unions as long as they don't make protecting bad teachers their primary function."

Posted by: david_r_fry |

There is no teachers union that makes protecting bad teachers their primary function. That is an intentionally phony canard created by the equally phony "reformers and parroted by the corporate media malign all unions and teachers in particular. All unions seek to negotiate due process rights to protect their employees from unwarranted dismissals for things like reporting cheating on tests, or questioning supervisors, just as they negotiate working conditions, safety rules and wages. There is no school district where the administration cannot dismiss a teacher for cause. The famous "rubber room" in NYC is a result of administrative incompetence, not the union "protecting bad teachers." That’s as ignorant as blaming the sorry state of GM and Chrysler on unions instead of incompetent management. In a criminal trial, the accused is not guilty unless the government can prove it; if they can't prove his guilt, it is possible, even likely he did not do what he was accused of. If a school administrator claims a teacher is "bad" they have enormous resources at their disposal to prove that claim. If they cannot, either the teacher was not a bad teacher, or the administrator is incompetent and needs to be held accountable.

Another question is how one defines a "bad teacher." In DC they developed an evaluation tool, IMPACT, which identifies disproven teaching fads as "good" while ignoring current research on cognitive development and developmentally appropriate teaching methods. In addition, a large part of the evaluation is based on the principal’s subjective like or dislike of individual teachers. In effect, it identifies bad teachers who are thoughtless yes-men as "good" and innovative, effective teachers as "bad."

Posted by: mcstowy | October 6, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"For mcstowy---thanks for the good suggestions for regular schools to visit, places that are not charters but shine because of great teachers, all union members. I also like schools like that. Three of my books are about them. I have only done one book about charters."

Posted by: Jay Mathews

OK. So where's the movie? Where's the magazine cover? Where're Oprah and Arne Duncan and Meet the Press? Sure, KIPP has its niche, just like religious schools, military schools, montessori, boarding schools and others, but suggestiong that their methods can be transferred to inner-city public school systems makes as much sense as only hiring nuns as public school teachers. If you're looking for ideas about how to run a large, inner-city school system, why not look at big, inner-city school systems that have been successful? Why do we look to non-educators like Rhee and Klein for answers when people like Dr. Deborah Jewell-Sherman and Dr. Yvonne W. Brandon are out there and available? Why doesn't Meet the Press or Oprah invite Dr. Jewell-Sherman, Dr. Ravitch or Dr. Darling-Hammond to discuss "school reform" instead of intellectual lightweights like Rhee and Duncan? Do their PhD's, peer-reviewed research and 30-years + in education disqualify them?

Posted by: mcstowy | October 6, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

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