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Exploring the Impact of KIPP Charter Schools on College Success



Last Updated on October 15, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes

New Study Examines Impact of KIPP Middle Schools on College Completion Rates

A recent study conducted by Mathematica has shed light on the impact of attending KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) middle schools on college completion rates. The study compared students who were fortunate enough to win a random lottery to attend a KIPP middle school with their counterparts who were not as fortunate. Surprisingly, the study found that both groups had similar college completion rates, suggesting that KIPP middle schools had little to no impact on the attainment of four-year degrees.

However, the study took a closer look at a subset of students who had the opportunity to attend both a KIPP middle and high school. Interestingly, these students exhibited significantly higher chances of entering and completing college. This complex verdict presents contrasting results for KIPP, as the outcomes are promising when considering the impact of both middle and high school education combined, but less encouraging when examining middle school-only results.

Experts, however, argue that more research is needed before firm conclusions about the effectiveness of KIPP can be made. The study encompassed over 2,000 students who applied to attend KIPP middle schools in 2008, 2009, or 2011. Prior research has shown that KIPP schools improve test scores, but this study indicates limited longer-term benefits for attending a KIPP middle school.

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The secondary analysis, which focused on a smaller group of students who attended both a KIPP middle and high school, revealed higher college completion rates. KIPP officials emphasize the positive results from the secondary analysis, asserting that a continuous KIPP education from middle school to high school has a life-changing impact on students. Mathematica researchers suggest that the emphasis on college-related supports in KIPP high schools may contribute to the higher college completion rates observed in this group.

It is clear that further research is needed to fully understand the discrepancies between the two major findings of the study. These findings have sparked questions about the overall effectiveness of KIPP charter schools and the necessity for more rigorous research. The authors hope that this study is not the final phase of research and that further investigation can provide a clearer picture of KIPP’s true impact on college completion rates.

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