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June 22, 2010

KIPP Study Shows High Rate of Retention

A report released today by Mathematica, a non-partisan policy research center, examined the impact of 22 KIPP Charter Schools on student achievement. The report found that KIPP students performed better than their traditional public school peers and that their performance halved the black-white achievement gap.

Another interesting finding is that KIPP schools retained students—that is, made them repeat a grade—more frequently than their traditional public school counterparts. They write:

 “KIPP’s commitment to high expectations of students does not encourage social promotion. KIPP expects students to meet their standards for being academically prepared for the next grade before they will be promoted. Consequently, KIPP middle schools retain students at significantly higher rates than other public schools in the same districts.”

Indeed, while the researchers found the evidence inconclusive with regards to relative attrition rates and relative achievement levels of incoming students, they found strong evidence that KIPP holds back 5th and 6th grade students at a rate far higher than traditional public schools.

This result augments my earlier report, which found that the majority of cohort “attrition” detailed in the UFT report on “Vanishing Students” was actually due to retention at charter schools. Let's hope that there is further research into the impact of retention and achievement at charter schools.

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