"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, June 17, 2006

SRI Report on Bay Area KIPP schools

The full report can be found here.

Here are some interesting excerpts:

--1--

"Almost half the Bay Area KIPP teachers come from the Teach for America program; their median teaching experience prior to joining KIPP is 2 years. They tend to be young and without children; few match the ethnicity of the majority of their students. Thirteen of 17 teachers stayed in the job from 2003–04 to 2004–05, similar to national attrition estimates. However, three out of four teachers indicated that the demands of the job may limit their willingness to stay more than a few years. "

--2--

"By the start of the 2005–06 school year, Bay Area KIPP schools were beginning to use lotteries and waiting lists to select students. KIPP principals and staff still conduct home visits but after students enroll rather than for recruitment purposes. Given increasing interest in KIPP schools on the part of parents and students, some principals expressed concern about “creaming” already high-performing students from local schools when there remains a large number who are low-performing and underserved. One principal expressed dismay with the school’s struggle to enroll Title I students, whom she considers to be her target population. KIPP principals purposively took steps to recruit lower-performing students by targeting specific feeder schools or the local Boys and Girls Club. Also, two of the principals who believe that exposure to diversity is important are trying to recruit students from a range of neighborhoods. One principal recalled, “[We] tried to recruit in [the Latino region of the city] but had no luck—kids maybe felt it was out of their jurisdiction.” Another principal, targeting the Asian community, said it was difficult to get people to participate in KIPP and is now making efforts to make more connections with this group."

--commentary--

From this, one could argue that KIPP success is based on the fact that KIPP students have motivated parents who push them in ways that other underprivileged kids don't. Also, it seems that at least some KIPP students are already succeeding at other schools. Given these two factors -- motivated parents and already successful students -- how much credit can we reasonably ascribe to KIPP?

Also, KIPP schools are made up almost entirely of black students. KIPP's success undergirds the recent law passed by the Nebraska legislature, allowing for segregated schools in Omaha. In other words, looking at KIPP as an example, the argument could be made that while segregated schools might seem bad, they actually "work." Of course, what they work at doing is the question.

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