The KIPP Factor

Among charter school networks having a profound impact on low-income student achievement, one stands out. The Knowledge is Power Program, or KIPP.

Want proof? Eighty percent of its graduates go on to college--the national average for low-income students being just 20 percent. And on average, fifth graders who spend just one year at a KIPP school improve from the 38th to 68th percentile in math, and 27th to the 42nd percentile in reading on the Stanford Achievement Tests.

Ohioans have the opportunity to bring this high-powered school to the Buckeye State--but not unless current laws are changed.

With 52 schools nationwide, KIPP is looking to expand, seeking proposals from communities across the nation to open more. Our state’s charter cap, however, only allows charter school operators with proven track record of success that manage the “daily operations of a community school” to open here. KIPP doesn’t handle day-to-day operations. Instead, it pours its resources into training independent, highly qualified leaders and support staff who take on the task themselves.

And the school has the financial backing to do this. New KIPP schools come with hefty grants for start-up and professional development from the likes of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ($300,000 for high schools) and Walton Family Foundation ($400,000 for all new schools).

Ohio shouldn’t let this opportunity pass it by.

State policymakers should do what’s necessary to welcome KIPP to Ohio’s charter school community. If we are serious about closing achievement gaps in this state, we must embrace school models that yield results--even if it means tweaking our own laws so they can come in.

Learn more about KIPP here.

"KIPP Schools Shift Strategy for Scaling Up," by Eric Robelen, Education Week, April 12, 2006.