search Quick Email Signup EPI US Canada



CONTACT: Dr. Watson Scott Swail,; 540.288.2322

KIPP Charter Schools Show Promise

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA, August 11, 2005 — A new report by the Educational Policy Institute found that the KIPP schools appear to have a dramatic impact on reading, language, and mathematics achievement for 5th-grade students. KIPP, an acronym for the Knowledge Is Power Program, are tuition-free, open-enrollment, college preparatory, public schools, serving high-need communities. Three-quarters of KIPP students receive free or reduced-price lunches, and 90 percent are students of color. KIPP schools begin with the fifth grade.


The study used school-level Stanford 9 and Stanford 10 (SAT) data supplied by the KIPP Foundation for its analysis. The SAT 9/10 are normative-referenced tests in reading, mathematics, language, spelling, listening, science, and social studies, used by thousands of schools across the U.S.


The EPI study found that 5th-grade cohorts at KIPP schools post substantially greater academic gains on the SAT than what is considered normal, a finding consistent with prior research on KIPP schools. Given that a growth score of zero on the normal curve equivalent (NCE) is considered “normal growth,” KIPP schools that first administered the tests in the fall with a follow-up test in the spring, enjoyed mean gains of 10.1 in reading, 10.9 in language, and 17.4 in mathematics. Schools that first administered the test in the fall and one year later, the next fall, measured score gains of 7.5 in reading, 9.1 in language, and 11.6 in mathematics.


Aside from exceeding what is considered “normal growth,” KIPP fifth-grade students saw increases far beyond this normal growth, with average gains of 10 to 15 percent.


EPI President Watson Scott Swail suggests that the findings should be viewed with cautious optimism. “These findings are significant and lead us to believe that the KIPP schools are doing something right for low income and minority students. However, the next step requires us to collect student-level data to allow for a true comparison of academic progress across KIPP schools and with students from other public schools.”


Steve Mancini, spokesman for the San Francisco-based organization, applauded the results, saying “Through hard work and high expectations, KIPP educators are building a quiet revolution in public education one school at a time, but we won't be fully satisfied until our students finally earn acceptances to college.”


KIPP was developed in 1994 by two Houston teachers and has since been supported through the KIPP Foundation, funded in large part by Doris and Donald Fisher, co-founders of Gap Inc. KIPP has grown to a national network of 38 public schools in 15 states and the District of Columbia, with up to ten schools slated for opening this fall.


The report was authored by Ms. Adriane Williams, an EPI research associate, and Dr. Swail. The study was featured by the Washington Post in today’s print and online edition. Visit that report by clicking here.


Copies of the research report may be downloaded by clicking here or visiting