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The KIPP Foundation

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The Knowledge Is Power Program: Preparing Youth for College Success

A college education opens the door to better pay, steadier employment, more career opportunities, and greater social mobility. Yet many youth from underserved communities find the door to college admission and success hard to open.

To address this disparity, the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) established a national network of free, open-enrollment college preparatory public schools in underserved communities throughout the United States. The KIPP approach to education includes training outstanding leaders, giving students more time in the classroom, setting high expectations, providing a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum, and developing a strong culture of support. Founded in 1994, KIPP has grown to a national network of more than 140 schools in 20 states and Washington, DC, including 74 middle schools as of the 2013-2014 school year.

Mathematica's first evaluation of KIPP focuses on the following questions:

  • What are the impacts of KIPP middle schools on student achievement and other outcomes, and how do these outcomes compare with those of students at other schools?
  • Does the performance of KIPP students—both within and beyond core academic areas—suggest that they are on a path toward college attainment and persistence?

Mathematica is using both a lottery-based design and a quasi-experimental, matched comparison group to evaluate student outcomes over a broad range of KIPP middle schools. These methodologies provide sound data on the impact of KIPP on student achievement and college readiness.

The lottery-based component consists of a randomized control trial in KIPP schools that are “oversubscribed”—with more applicants than spaces available—and that use lotteries to determine which students are offered admission. The lotteries randomly assign sample members into a treatment group (comprised of students with access to a KIPP education) or a control group (comprised of students without such access). Student outcomes over the follow-up period are being measured for both groups using school records, student and parent surveys, and results from a test of higher-order thinking skills.

For the quasi-experimental component, Mathematica is collecting multiple years of data from school records on KIPP middle school students and students at nearby traditional public schools. The information is being used to rigorously estimate the KIPP effect by comparing outcomes for KIPP students with outcomes for a comparison group of students identified as most similar to KIPP students based on pre-middle-school trends in test scores and other characteristics.

As part of KIPP’s $50 million Investing in Innovation (i3) grant awarded in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Education, Mathematica is building on that first study via a rigorous evaluation of KIPP as it “scales up.” The five-year project, designed to address the question of whether KIPP can maintain its effectiveness as the network grows, has three primary components:

  1. An impact analysis, using lottery-based and quasi-experimental design (QED) methods similar to those employed in the first study, will estimate the effect of KIPP schools on student achievement, attainment, and other outcomes at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.
  2. An implementation analysis will describe, in depth, KIPP’s leadership pathways at the local and national levels.
  3. A correlational analysis, investigating factors related to impacts, will examine specific characteristics that may distinguish higher-performing from lower-performing schools within the network.


"KIPP Middle Schools: Impacts on Achievement and Other Outcomes" Executive Summary | Fact Sheet (February 2013)
"Student Selection, Attrition, and Replacement in KIPP Middle Schools: Working Paper Presented at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association" (September 2012)
"Supplemental Analytic Sample Equivalence Tables for Student Characteristics and Achievement in 22 KIPP Middle Schools" (July 2010)
"Student Characteristics and Achievement in 22 KIPP Middle Schools" (June 2010)
Webinar Slides: "Student Characteristics and Achievement in 22 KIPP Middle Schools" (June 2010)