A grant from the Atlantic Philanthropies will pay for an in-depth, longitudinal study of the widely touted Knowledge Is Power Program, or KIPP, network of public schools.
The $14.6 million grant to the KIPP Foundation, expected to be announced this week, will support the research project as well as other activities designed to help KIPP enhance and expand its operations over the next five years.
The network has 52 schools in 16 states and the District of Columbia enrolling more than 12,000 students. Most KIPP schools serve middle schoolers, and nearly all are charter schools.
KIPP schools have been the subject of several studies to date, but nothing on the scale of the one being planned, said Steve Mancini, a KIPP spokesman. Beginning in late February, the San Francisco-based KIPP Foundation will formally solicit research proposals for the multiyear national study, he said.
Key issues to be examined are the effect of the schools on the academic achievement of disadvantaged students, how KIPP students’ achievement levels compare with those of students at other public schools, and how sustainable and replicable the model is, Mr. Mancini said.
“We think it will help us more deeply reflect on how we can continue to strengthen the quality of education at our schools, and then implement what we have learned in the new schools,” he said.
The study will include a “control group” of comparable students who do not attend KIPP schools, he added.
The school network has produced what many analysts call impressive academic gains for the schools’ predominantly low-income and minority students. Some skeptics, however, have questioned whether KIPP creams off strong students from motivated families, a claim sharply disputed by KIPP officials. Critics also question whether the model’s heavy time demands on staff members are sustainable.
The network aims to expand to 100 schools over the next five years, Mr. Mancini said. Beyond the research component, the Atlantic grant will help the nonprofit organization improve its leadership training and central administrative systems.
“KIPP is one of the most promising models in public education today,” Charles Roussel, the director for the disadvantaged children and youth program at the Atlantic Philanthropies, based in New York City, said in a press release. “We are privileged to strengthen its leadership and sustainability.”
A version of this article appeared in the January 31, 2007 edition of Education Week as KIPP Schools to be Studied for Long Haul