Thursday, May 27, 2010

KIPP students prove that real consequences can change behavior

Speaking of KIPP, here's an article about KIPP's rewards and punishments system that teaches a critically important lesson to youngsters: you're responsible for your behavior, and your behavior has consequences:

A key lesson in the "no excuses" type of public school, which uses firm measures to raise achievement for impoverished students, is behavior has consequences. The Knowledge Is Power Program, a no-excuses-style charter network, does that by denying some students the traditional year-end trip to Orlando or Utah or New York or other places they desperately want to go.

Does it work? Here comes an unusually qualified expert. Monday night, Kyrien Curtis arrives in Washington as a volunteer chaperon for 60 fifth-graders from the KIPP STRIVE Academy in Atlanta. He is a short, lean freshman at Morehouse College. He grew up in Houston and attended the KIPP Academy Middle School there all four years, from fifth through eighth grade. Because of foul moods and other distractions, he missed the trip every time, so this will be his first.

Denying children cherished prizes is a controversial part of the no-excuses model. The idea is to build self-restraint. It has had an impact. Former KIPP students, now adults, tell me that losing a year-end trip was the most dramatic moment of their middle school years. They are still trying to measure its influence a decade later.

Squashing a student's dream is something that most schools, public and private, rarely do. Some educators think it is cruel and destructive to a learning environment. But KIPP's achievement gains are large.

KIPP's co-founders, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, were appalled at the lack of meaningful consequences for students who misbehaved when they were novice teachers in Houston public schools. When they started KIPP in 1994, they devised a system of KIPP dollars for good behavior and loss of privileges -- such as being prohibited from talking to your friends -- for bad behavior.

Getting a good education and going to college, they said, were the consequences of good decisions. Bad decisions set you back. Some students did not believe that until they lost a trip.


KIPP students prove that real consequences can change behavior

Monday, May 17, 2010; B02

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