KIPP recently released its first College Completion Report, entitled The Promise of College Completion: KIPP's Early Successes and Challenges (attached and posted at: www.kipp.org/ccr). I'm dedicating this entire email to it because it's so important: at the end of the day, closing the achievement gap doesn't mean a certain percentage of kids scoring at grade level on a test or earning a high school degree. No, what REALLY matters is what percent of students earn a four-year college degree, which today is pretty much a requirement to have a fair shot at the American Dream (this wasn't always true – in my parents' generation, a high school degree was sufficient).
I have never seen another middle school ANYWHERE – regular public, public charter, or private – report the college completion rate of its EIGHTH GRADE graduates; the best I've seen, for middle schools, is high school completion rates, and, for high schools, college acceptance (or, in a few cases, matriculation) rates. But these statistics don't mean much, as KIPP's experience shows: 95% of its 8thgrade graduates earned a high school degree and 89% enrolled in college, but "only" 33% earned a four-year degree within six years. I say "only" because, while 33% might not sound impressive, it's actually equal to the national average and is FOUR TIMES the rate for low-income students. In addition, more recent KIPP classes are trending toward nearly a 50% four-year college completion rate!
KIPP, as usual, is leading the way in terms of data collection, reporting and self-assessment. I think every school district and charter school/CMO in this country should be required to track students, staring in 8th grade, and report publicly how many finish high school, matriculate to college, earn a two-year degree, and earn a four-year degree. Now THAT would create some seriously interesting results – and accountability!