Monday, May 20, 2013

STL BEACON: Enthusiastic article on KIPP, but...

...read the article critically and check the results closely.  KIPP is only as good or better than SLPS (which is admittedly struggling) in some MAP scores. KIPP is still below (sometimes well below) Missouri average in most. In most cases less (sometimes significantly less) than 50% of KIPP students are scoring proficient in any field.  KIPP matches Missouri averages only in fifth grade science.  Whether or not this is a model for improving education for any, let alone, all students in St. Louis is still an open question. However, the article reads as if it is promotional material for KIPP, which plans to open another school in St. Louis in 2014 (and four more in the future). For article and image, see: https://www.stlbeacon.org/#!/content/30931/kipp_school_graduates_051513

Looking over KIPP's own St. Louis report card for the 2011-2012 norm referenced test for measuring year-to-year academic progress we see that students were tested first in fifth grade, then performed slightly worse in sixth grade (in reading and math), and improved again in seventh. Data are not offered for science in sixth and seventh grades.  With missing data we presume that they fared worse? Or were not tested?

Now that I'm curious, I explore the national KIPP report card further -- see: http://www.kipp.org/reportcard to pick any city you want.  Kansas City KIPP is faring worse than STL KIPP. There KIPP is failing to match struggling public schools across many grades, topping them only at three points. Like St. Louis KIPP, they are still well below state averages (and Missouri averages, nation-wide, remember, are in the lower half of all states across the nation). Curiously again, data are not provided for 6th and 7th Science in KC, which gives only 5th and 8th.  When data are missing, one wonders why. See:

As with other charters, one might expect that schools untethered from the burdens of teachers' unions and public school bureaucracies, with parents who have exercised their own initiative and choice to attend, the ability to expel or exclude students who present difficult challenges, with motivated teachers free to experiment with the best pedagogical models, leaders who are energetic and qualified, competing with public schools in dire shape, and doing all of this with public money and significant corporate financial and university support, would be posting much clearer and convincing signs of success than this article and the report card illustrate.