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KIPP Charter Schools Have Funding Edge, Study Says

One of America's most successful charter-school networks receives more government money than it has previously admitted — and it's also not as successful as it has stated, according to a new study.

Researchers say that schools in the Knowledge Is Power Program have a much higher attrition rate than in the school systems from which they draw their students — especially among African-American children.

Here's part of a Newscast report filed by Claudio Sanchez:

Researchers from Western Michigan University looked at U.S. Department of Education data from 2007-2008 and found that KIPP charter schools got $12,731 per student, about $3,200 more than the typical charter school, and nearly $1,000 more than regular public schools.

KIPP, with 99 schools in 20 states, has been very successful with kids in high poverty neighborhoods, with more than 85 percent of their students going on to college.

In addition to the $12,731 in taxpayer money, KIPP also tapped private donors for more than $5,700 per student, says The New York Times. The Times also reports on reaction among the academic community.

Officials from KIPP dispute the researchers' findings.

The researchers say their study, titled What Makes KIPP Work? A Study of Student Characteristics, Attrition and School Finance, was meant to see if the KIPP methods could be expanded to more schools — not to challenge the program's overall effectiveness.

The study's authors say they found no explanation for why KIPP schools would receive more money per student.

A post at The Baltimore Sun's Inside Ed blog — Baltimore has two KIPP schools — explores the issue of the attrition rate:

But nationally, the report found, on average about 15 percent of students drop from KIPP cohorts every year, compared to 3 percent in public schools. Moreover, between grades 6 and 8, about 30 percent of KIPP students drop off of the rolls.

A very high number of students who disappear from the cohorts are African-American males, the report found. However, KIPP does serve primarily African-American students.

In the study, lead author Gary Miron says the KIPP network's success also stems from its selective inclusion of students — and the exclusion of others.

What Makes KIPP Work? A Study of Student Characteristics, Attrition and School Finance

"The findings in our report show that students with disabilities and students classified as English language learners are greatly underrepresented," he wrote.

You can read the full study below — or just click the headline to read it in a larger format.


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