School Climate & Safety

KIPP CEO Addresses School Discipline Questions

By Jaclyn Zubrzycki — February 19, 2013 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Knowledge Is Power Program, or KIPP, is a nationwide charter school network whose “no excuses” model and high academic performance have brought it widespread praise. Critics, however, have questioned whether KIPP schools’ academic showing is partly attributable to attrition of low-performing students whose seats often end up going unfilled.

The network consists of 31 separate charter-management organizations, each of which sets its own disciplinary policies. Overall, there are 125 KIPP schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Founded in 1994, KIPP now enrolls more than 41,000 students, of whom 59 percent are African-American, 36 percent are Hispanic, and 87 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, according to the San Francisco-based national organization. In addition, 14 percent of its students are designated English-language learners, and 9 percent receive special education services.

KIPP’s chief executive officer, Richard Barth, answered a series of questions by email from Education Week about the charter organization’s discipline policies.

How are KIPP’s disciplinary policies related to its mission?

KIPP emphasizes high expectations for both students and the adults who support them. We structure our schools around a three-way partnership between students, parents, and teachers. School culture is so vitally important, and we strive to create an atmosphere where everyone is inspired to do their very best. What we’ve found is that the schools are most successful at creating this culture when they have a standard of behavior that’s cohesive and clear.

Some school systems have made efforts recently to standardize expulsion/discipline policies across traditional and charter schools. Do you think bringing more uniformity to these policies makes sense, or not?

Historically, educators have looked through a “district vs. charter” lens. But in communities across the country, we’re seeing a move to a “one city” or “one community” model. Discipline policies are a part of that, but there’s so much more: Districts and charters are sharing facilities, professional-development approaches, sports teams, enrollment strategies, and a whole host of other best practices and resources. ... The shift to this new collaborative way of thinking won’t happen overnight. But I’m optimistic, and I think that sharing and standardizing these practices—including discipline—is absolutely a good thing.

Some critics say that tough disciplinary policies mean that your schools aren’t educating more-challenging students and that their academic performance shouldn’t be compared with that of regular public schools. What’s your response to that allegation? Should KIPP schools be serving the “same” students as other public schools? Are they?

Right now, we have independent researchers seeking to address those very issues. Mathematica is conducting a multiyear study of KIPP middle schools, to better understand our demographics and achievement. So far, Mathematica has found that, on average, students who come to KIPP in 5th grade are more likely to be from low-income and minority backgrounds, but less likely to be designated ell or special education, than at neighboring district schools.

Mathematica concluded that entering test scores of KIPP students are comparable with those at neighboring district schools. Mathematica also found that KIPP’s middle school attrition is not systematically different from that of neighboring school districts, and that we backfill—that is, enroll new students in 6th through 8th grades—at similar rates to district schools.

Related Tags:

Coverage of school climate and student behavior and engagement is supported in part by grants from the Atlantic Philanthropies, the NoVo Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, and the California Endowment.
A version of this article appeared in the February 20, 2013 edition of Education Week as Q&A: KIPP CEO Addresses Impact of Discipline Strategy

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Your Questions on the Science of Reading, Answered
Dive into the Science of Reading with K-12 leaders. Discover strategies, policy insights, and more in our webinar.
Content provided by Otus
Mathematics Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Breaking the Cycle: How Districts are Turning around Dismal Math Scores
Math myth: Students just aren't good at it? Join us & learn how districts are boosting math scores.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety Most Teachers Worry a Shooting Could Happen at Their School
Teachers say their schools could do more to prepare them for an active-shooter situation.
4 min read
Image of a school hallway with icons representing lockdowns, SRO, metal detectors.
via Canva
School Climate & Safety Michigan School Shooter's Parents Sentenced to at Least 10 Years in Prison
They are the first parents convicted for failures to prevent a school shooting.
3 min read
Jennifer Crumbley stares at her husband James Crumbley during sentencing at Oakland County Circuit Court on April 9, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich. Jennifer and James Crumbley, the parents of Ethan Crumbley, are asking a judge to keep them out of prison as they face sentencing for their role in an attack that killed four students in 2021.
Jennifer Crumbley stares at her husband James Crumbley during sentencing at Oakland County Circuit Court on April 9, 2024, in Pontiac, Mich. The parents of Ethan Crumbley, who killed four students at his Michigan high school in 2021, asked a judge to keep them out of prison.
Clarence Tabb Jr./Detroit News via AP
School Climate & Safety Civil Rights Groups Seek Federal Funding Ban on AI-Powered Surveillance Tools
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Education, the coalition argued these tools could violate students' civil rights.
4 min read
Illustration of human silhouette and facial recognition.
DigitalVision Vectors / Getty
School Climate & Safety Want to Tackle Attendance Apathy? Students Will Show You How
There’s no one-shot solution to chronic absenteeism, but listening to students is a good way to begin.
5 min read
Photo of teenage boy outside of school.
iStock / Getty Images Plus