KIPP Impact Study Relevant to Its OII-Supported Efforts in Network Growth and Leadership

A recent study of middle-school students attending KIPP charter schools compared their performance in four core academic subjects over a three-year period and found that they gained between 11 and 14 additional months of learning over students in comparable traditional public schools. The study, “KIPP Middle Schools: Impacts on Achievement and Other Outcomes,” was conducted by Mathematica Policy Research (Mathematica), using multiple research strategies, including a rigorous, random-assignment methodology that compared students admitted to KIPP schools through its lottery system with students who applied to KIPP but were not admitted.

The study’s findings add credence to the KIPP network’s efforts to expand enrollment with support from OII’s Replication and Expansion for High-Quality Charter Schools (CSP) program, for which the KIPP Foundation is a current and three-time grantee. Over the three grants, the goals are to support the creation of 75 new elementary, middle, and high schools. KIPP is one of 19 nonprofit charter management organizations that receive CSP support to expand enrollment of existing charter schools or to open new charter schools based on their proven models.

The KIPP Foundation is also a current grantee of OII’s Investing in Innovation (i3) program. While the new Mathematica research impact study is not a component of KIPP’s i3 project, Success as the Norm: Scaling Up KIPP’s Effective Leadership Development Model, it takes on greater significance when considered in relation to i3 data KIPP is presently gathering. As part of the i3 project, Mathematica will conduct additional academic achievement impact studies to compare KIPP students to non-KIPP students in matched elementary as well as middle schools. As it did in the most recent study, Mathematica will employ a quasi-experimental research design using both student- and school-level matching as well as a lottery-based, random-assignment comparison of students in KIPP and non-charter schools.

On March 27, the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) released its Quick Review of the portion of the current Mathematica study that involved use of a quasi-experimental, matched-student research design, finding that it meets WWC evidence standards with reservations. The lottery-based, random-assignment portion of the Mathematica study is currently undergoing a thorough review, and WWC will later determine a rating for that portion of the study and report on its results. Click here for updates on WWC’s Quick Reviews or here to subscribe to News Flash, an IES email-alert system that can be tailored to users’ specific interests in IES publications and services.

The KIPP i3 Scale-up grant also takes a critical look at the network’s “leadership pipeline” to understand more about its structure, training strategies, and leadership practices at the school, regional, and national levels. Among the questions for which answers are being sought are: What are competencies of future KIPP leaders that can be identified in candidates at the school and regional levels of the network? What happens in the leadership pipeline as schools age and regions expand?

The eventual i3-project data and evaluation findings, coupled with the present Mathematica research study findings, should prove to be valuable to KIPP as it expands the number of schools in its own network, as well as to the field generally as it identifies challenges to effective school leadership and evaluates strategies to address them.

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