- KIPP Academy Fresno went from 60 to 48 kids from 5th to 6th grade, a 20% decrease in enrollment.
- KIPP San Francisco Bay Academy in San Francisco went from 73 to 56 kids from 5th to 7th grade, a 23% decrease in enrollment.
- KIPP Academy of Opportunity in LA went from 88 to 66 kids from 5th to 7th grade, a 25% decrease in enrollment.
- KIPP Bayview Academy in San Francisco went from 81 to 55 kids from 5th to 7th grade, a 32% decrease in enrollment.
- KIPP Los Angeles College Preparatory in LA went from 88 to 57 kids from 5th to 7th grade, a 35% decrease in enrollment.
- KIPP Bridge College Preparatory in Oakland went from 87 to 36 kids from 5th to 8th grade, a whopping 59% decrease in enrollment.
Drop-outs, or at least transients, are a common phenomenon in low-income schools, even good ones. So these numbers would not be surprising if they were associated with your average public school. But KIPP is not your average public school. Many supporters of KIPP see it as the answer to the problems that vex inner-city schools. But it seems, at least from what we can tell from the California enrollment data, that even KIPP cannot solve the drop-out/transient problem.
But then you start to wonder: is KIPP causing this high drop-out rate? If it's not causing kids to drop out, then there might certainly be a correlation between KIPP's "unique approach to educating low-income kids" and the fact that so many of them, at least in California, don't make it out of KIPP.
Consider what we know about KIPP:
- KIPP students are required to go to school Monday to Friday from 7:30 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon.
- They go to school on Saturday from 9 in the morning until 1 in the afternoon.
- They are required to complete two hours of homework every night.
- They are required to attend an extra month of school in the summer.
- They are required to wear a uniform.
Now it gets even more complicated. According to a recent SRI report, Bay Area KIPP schools in California are attracting already high-performing students from local schools. Some KIPP principals expressed concern about “creaming” these already high-performing students from other 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 considered to be her target population. (see p. 18 of the report)
So it seems reasonable to ask this other question: how much is KIPP actually contributing to the achievement of these already high-performing students? As class numbers decrease, the performance of these high-achievers shines brighter and brighter. Supporters claim this is due to KIPP's unique approach. They might be right, but not for the reasons they suspect. It might be possible that KIPP's unique approach forces enough of the low-achievers out to make the achievement of those that remain seem better than it really is.
In part 1 of a Hedrick Smith piece on KIPP, a Latino boy named Ray, a 16-year-old 8th grader enrolled in KIPP 3D Academy in Houston, talks about his first experience at KIPP.
At 3 minutes, 14 seconds into this video segment, there is a glimpse into how KIPP achieves its results.
Here's the transcript:
Hedrick Smith (voiceover) - At the start of school, Ray had his first confrontation with 3D Academy's principal, Dan Caesar.
Ray: We were going over our chants, and -- just being myself, still trying to figure out how this school works and everything . . .
Dan Caesar - We say, "Is 3D in the house?!?!" and all the kids raise up their hands and say, "YES!" and Reynaldo raised up his hands and said "NO!"
Ray: I waved my hand. I said, "No." And then he looked at me and he said it a second time. And I said "No" again.
Dan Caesar - I knew right then, "Here's the first test, the first person testing our culture." So I let him know in front of everybody in the room that that's not going to be tolerated. We all want to be here. We chose to be here. If you don't want to be here, find the door.
So much for KIPP's motto, "No excuses."