Tuesday, October 12, 2010

KIPP DC leaders unworried by drop in test scores

Jay Mathews with an interesting column about KIPP DC and KIPP's expansion to elementary and high schools, and how that changes KIPP:

Fifth-grade test scores dropped this year at the KIPP DC charter schools. Some people wondered whether 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 city's first KIPP school in a Southeast Washington church basement in 2001. With space available in a new building on Benning Road SE, Schaeffler added fourth-graders to what had been a fifth- to eighth-grade middle school.

Last year, the reading proficiency rate for KIPP DC fifth-graders dropped from 51 percent to 41 percent, and the math proficiency rate from 72 percent to 51 percent. Schaeffler shrugs this off as random, something that has happened before when fifth-graders arrive at KIPP with lower skill 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.


KIPP DC leaders unworried by drop in test scores

By Jay Mathews

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 3, 2010; 7:52 PM


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