Monday, March 08, 2010

New study from the National Bureau of Economic Research by Harvard and MIT profs on KIPP Lynn in Massachusetts

STOP THE PRESSES!!!  A new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research by Harvard and MIT profs on KIPP Lynn in Massachusetts, which definitively rebuts the nonsense that KIPP's success is due to skimming and/or that KIPP only helps the "best" kids.  Here's the summary from the web site (


Charter schools affiliated with the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) are emblematic of the No Excuses approach to public education. These schools feature a long school day, an extended school year, selective teacher hiring, strict behavior norms and a focus on traditional reading and math skills. We use applicant lotteries to evaluate the impact of KIPP Academy Lynn, a KIPP charter school that is mostly Hispanic and has a high concentration of limited English proficiency (LEP) and special-need students, groups that charter critics have argued are typically under-served. The results show overall gains of 0.35 standard deviations in math and 0.12 standard deviations in reading for each year spent at KIPP Lynn. LEP students, special education students, and those with low baseline scores benefit more from time spent at KIPP than do other students, with reading gains coming almost entirely from the LEP group.


An important feature of this study is that it compares students who won the lottery and got into KIPP vs. those who applied and lost the lottery, thereby ending up at Lynn Public Schools.  This normalizes for the possibility that more motivated parents enter the lottery.


The study also investigates whether KIPP students are better off than those at Lynn public schools – and finds precisely the opposite.  Table 1 (page 10) shows that the 5th grade of KIPP Lynn has more Hispanic, African-American students, free/reduced lunch, and special ed students, and nearly as many Limited English Proficiency students.  Also, tables 4 and 5 show that KIPP Lynn's students' entering MCAS scores (4th grade scores) are lower

than the average for LPS in both reading and math.


Here are the results of the study (keep in mind that 1.0 standard deviation is approximately moving from the 25th to the 75th percentile):


-          The achievement gap between white and African American / Hispanic students in Lynn is 0.6


-          KIPP Lynn students moved .35 EACH YEAR, meaning that the achievement gap is erased in only TWO YEARS and, over four years, the gain is a stunning 1.4 standard deviations in math!  One of the researchers said that if he hadn't conducted the research himself, he wouldn't have believed these off-the-charts results.


-          It's much harder to move students as quickly in reading, but KIPP Lynn students still moved .12 each year x 4 years = .48 in ELA (not as large as math but still "significant")


-          Of critical importance, the lowest-performing, most disadvantaged students benefitted the most:


-- The students who were in the bottom quartile in MCAS coming in made the largest gains

-- ELL students had the greatest gains, .45 per year in math and .38 in ELA

-- Special ed students had the second-highest gains, .44 per year in math and .29 in ELA

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