Tuesday, July 03, 2007

KIPP Student-Attrition Patterns Eyed

The Education Week article below highlights a few KIPP schools that have had student mobility/attrition issues, which is not surprising, especially in the early years of new schools.  As always, KIPP is addressing this important issue frankly and openly and has posted a letter from CEO Richard Barth (http://www.kipp.org/docs/press/KIPP_2007-06-07_Mobility_Barth.pdf), a Q&A (http://www.kipp.org/docs/press/KIPP_2007-06-07_Mobility_QA.pdf) and a fact sheet (http://www.kipp.org/docs/press/KIPP_2007-06-07_Mobility_Fact_Sheet.pdf) on the main page of its web site.

“To some advocates, KIPP is the savior of public education,” said Alex Molnar, who heads the Education Policy Studies Center at Arizona State University, in Tempe. “If a large number [of students] don’t stay, how can we say this is a model for public education?”

Yet 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.

“I would expect to see more of that kind of attrition when schools are new,” said Frederick M. Hess, the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank that supports charter schools. “I don’t see anything there that makes me doubt the value of what KIPP’s providing.”

Steve Mancini, a spokesman for KIPP, said the organization is committed to keeping attrition as low as possible. “It’s something we’re taking very seriously, trying to understand and get better at,” he said.

By the way, KIPP doesn't claim that it's the savior of public education (nor do I, though I think there's a heck of a lot that can be learned from KIPP).

KIPP Student-Attrition Patterns Eyed

High Mobility Rates at Certain Schools Attract Criticism, Despite Suggestions That Problem Is Easing Over Time

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As the high-profile Knowledge Is Power Program 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.


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