kitchen table math, the sequel: "KIPP schools routinely outscore many that serve middle-class"

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"KIPP schools routinely outscore many that serve middle-class"

Report finds KIPP students outscore public school peers


I remember, 5 years ago, when I first started telling people KIPP kids were twice as likely to take algebra in the 8th grade and pass Regents as our kids.

Now here it is, 2010, and I'm still telling people KIPP kids are twice as likely to take algebra in the 8th grade and pass Regents as our kids.

Same deal with Scarsdale. Last winter our Interim Director of Curriculum reported that 80% of Scarsdale students take algebra in 8th grade.

Then she added: "We're not Scarsdale. We certainly don't have the resources of Scarsdale."

'We're not Scarsdale' explained why we can't have 80% of our kids taking algebra in 8th grade. If we were Scarsdale, we could, but we're not Scarsdale so we can't.

A parent in the audience logged onto the internet, pulled the data, and reported back to the board before the night was out that in fact Irvington has exactly the same per pupil dollar spending on instructional programming as Scarsdale, so: check.

But no matter.

Tonight the board will undoubtedly approve funding to enable our Interim Director of Curriculum and a generous contingent of teachers to devote a week or two this summer to rejiggering Trailblazers in consultation with a math person from up Bedford way. Bedford School District seems to be the last Trailblazers site in the county apart from Irvington (Scarsdale adopted Singapore Math 2 years ago), so obviously we Irvington taxpayers need to pay them, too.

Check back in 2015.


lgm said...

We needed to cut money, so out went modified sports. Strong suggestion from Superintendent that the community provide sports via Boys and Girls Club of the next town over, to whom the school will rent facilities. All of the parent comments rejected having intramurals instead of competitive sports for this age group. About a month later, the newspaper announcement came...Super is now on the board of B&G.

Bostonian said...

Quoting the article:

'KIPP has grown into a national network of 82 schools -- including seven in the District -- that serve children from low-income backgrounds. KIPP students put in a longer day than most of their public school counterparts, attending class from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekdays. Many are also in class every other Saturday and for three weeks over the summer. A rigorous incentive system penalizes students for poor behavior and missed assignments. "Work hard, be nice" is the credo.'

Two reason KIPP students achieve more is are that they work harder and longer, and that students unwilling to do so are evicted. KIPP schools cost more money because of the longer school day and year, and some have proposed that to eliminate the achievement gap we need more such schools for minority children. This raises some questions, however:

(1) Is is politically possible and ethical to spend more on some groups of students because of their race and SES? White, Asian, and affluent voters, who pay a disproportionate share of the taxes, will object. Doing so also conflicts with the principle of equal treatment under the law.

(2) If more money is going to be spent on schools to lengthen the school day and year, would learning increase more if (for example) the "disadvantaged" half gets an extra hour of school per day or if all students get an extra half hour?

Crimson Wife said...

Bostonian- wasn't there just some research out of your state that found extending the time spent in school did not benefit middle-class children the way it did poor kids?

I don't personally have a problem with devoting extra resources to students who have greater-than-average needs. But only in the context of a complete overhaul of the schools to eliminate waste and to improve the curriculum.

I think it's safe to say that the brightest 1/3 or so of students could get through the entire K-12 curriculum by age 15 or 16 through compacting. The savings could be used to help struggling students without a need for increased taxes.

RMD said...

Bostonian . . . What evidence do you have that KIPP costs more?

palisadesk said...

KIPP is known to cost more, but how much more varied from school to school. They could not run the program they do without a lot of extra funding from foundations and private donors.

Some additional costs:
-- higher salaries for teachers, due to their working longer hours. Some KIPP schools pay teachers 29% more than they would earn in the regular district school system.
-- cell phones purchased for each teacher, and cell phone bills for each teacher
-- a great deal of money spent on busing services from private providers (I'm not sure who gets bused or why, but they do make a lot of use of bus services, and these are very costly)

Some of this information is available on the web; another source (in my case) were several charter school operators who were impressed by KIPP's results and went to some trouble to find out what their financing was and what they did with the money. In each case, the KIPP schools had a great deal more money available than did other charter schools in the same district -- sometimes 3 times as much per pupil.

Nothing wrong with that, they appear to be making good use of it, but it does suggest that the results are not easily scalable.

RMD said...

"but it does suggest that the results are not easily scalable"

This certainly could be true.

I'm guessing that Direct Instruction schools are more scalable because the instruction is more precise and so there isn't the additional work that needs to be done. I'm thinking of Arthur Academy, Cheyenne Mountain Charter Academy, and Thales Academy. They all use DI and seem to have very low costs ($6,800 per students for CMCA a year or so ago).

rocky said...

I think there are a lot of dear elementary teachers who are afraid of Singapore Math. They look at it and say, "Oh my. Where are the scissors and glue?".

The KIPP school teachers are all very numbers oriented and were hired to scientifically motivate middle school kids. With this extra drive and hard work, they can get 80% of them ready for algebra in two years.

But it shouldn't need two years of full tilt racing. Just as high school and middle school math teachers now have to pass a subject area examination, instating a similar test for elementary teachers would solve the problem in five or ten years.

Bostonian said...

Rocky said:

"Just as high school and middle school math teachers now have to pass a subject area examination, instating a similar test for elementary teachers would solve the problem in five or ten years."

In some countries, elementary school teachers are specialists, and the math teacher has a scheduled time with each class. In the U.S., a single elementary school teacher is expected to teach all subjects. You can set higher standards for teachers in each subject when hiring specialists. You could pay math teachers more than language arts teachers if necessary (but teachers unions would oppose this).
Why aren't elementary teachers hired to teach specific subjects, as they are in middle and high school?

Cranberry said...

From a quick web foray, I wouldn't say that KIPP is better funded than comparable local public schools. The KIPP foundation's latest available form 990, from 2007, shows some $15 million in grants. That sounds like a lot of money, but KIPP states it has some 21,000 students. That works out to some $715 per student.

I did find an article which stated, in a Houston KIPP academy in 2001, an average teacher salary of #37,054, and an average campus administrator salary of $54,757. They aren't getting rich on those wages. The administrator's pay, in particular, is lower than administrator pay in our neck of the woods.

From KIPP's website, I found this:

The majority of KIPP schools are public charter schools, and as such they typically receive less funding than district public schools. In most states and districts, KIPP and other public charter schools only receive 60 to 90 percent of the operational revenue and none of the capital expenditure revenue of district schools. As a result, KIPP schools have to use operating funds to pay for non-core education costs such as facilities and busing, which are typically covered for district schools.

This funding structure means that KIPP schools start out with lower revenues, and they also spend more per pupil than other public schools. It costs about $1,100 to $1,500 per KIPP student to fund KIPP's extended school day and calendar, higher staff salaries (KIPP teachers typically earn 15 to 20 percent more than traditional public school teachers) and other KIPP extras, such as field trips and enrichment classes. This added cost also includes the fees KIPP schools pay for facilities, transportation and other logistics as charter schools.

However, even with this structure, KIPP schools generally spend less per student than many large school districts due to their low overhead. For example, the KIPP schools in New York City spend less per-pupil educating their students than the average New York City middle school per-pupil expenditures for public middle schools run by New York City's Department of Education.

Diane Ravich also seemed very impressed by philanthropic spending on charter schools, but those donations palein comparison to the sums spent every year on public education. I would love to see an apples-to-apples comparison of receipts and expenses for public schools and the KIPP academies. It could well be (I suspect it is) that they spend the money differently. How does their administrator-to-teacher ratio compare to the ratio in public schools?

Bostonian said...

Other things being equal, longer work hours for teachers WILL require more money.

I should not have asserted that KIPP schools spend more than others without researching the question. KIPP schools usually employ non-unionized teachers, which can reduce costs due to lower salaries and benefits and the ability to fire poor teachers. I'd love to see the power of teachers' unions broken nationwide, but that will be a huge fight.

IMO a good discussion of KIPP is at Steve Sailer's blog , which references a Slate article by Sara Mosle.

CassyT said...

At the Colorado League of Charter Schools conference, I attended a session on how KIPP hires, manages and retains good teachers. When I get back into town, I'll pull my notes.

What I most remember from the session is that KIPP expects a LOT from their teachers and they are continually offered other positions within the organization to keep them from burning out. They'll even offer one-year sabbaticals for some.

Catherine Johnson said...

Cassy - definitely get those notes!

(Also more photos from msmi2010!)

Jay Mathews says that so far KIPP is proving to be scalable, which has surprised a lot of people.

I wonder whether there's some way to do what KIPP does **without** burning out the teachers.

I frequently have the feeling, reading about KIPP, that they may be working too hard -- that there is a way to 'work smarter, not harder.'

I say that as a huge fan of KIPP, fyi. I would have tried to get C. into Bronx KIPP as an exchange student in 8th grade if he'd been willing to go.

In other words, I don't mean to gainsay their methods .... I just get the feeling there may be a way to do what they do that is more 'sustainable' in terms of the teachers.

I wonder whether their new schools starting in Kindergarten will be different in terms of the intensity needed in grades 5-8?

Catherine Johnson said...

After spending a week with Wu, I think it is **nuts** to have elementary school teachers teaching every subject. We should have specialists by 3rd or 4th grade.

Catherine Johnson said...

RMD wrote:

I'm guessing that Direct Instruction schools are more scalable because the instruction is more precise and so there isn't the additional work that needs to be done. I'm thinking of Arthur Academy, Cheyenne Mountain Charter Academy, and Thales Academy. They all use DI and seem to have very low costs ($6,800 per students for CMCA a year or so ago).


That's my question, always, reading about KIPP.

CassyT said...

OK, I'm back and still searching for those notes I took at the KIPP session entitled: Retaining and Developing Top Teachers and School leaders.

More photos from the msmi2010 have been uploaded here:

Joel said...

How about "work smarter and harder, not longer"?
I'm just a sub, and a new one at that, but I see an issue in public schools with tons of wasted academic time -- too long to get going in morning/after lunch, to get supplies, transition subjects, etc; maybe KIPP has improved on daily efficiency?