Monday, May 9, 2011

KIPP Fails Science Test

The Knowledge Is Power Program, or KIPP, network of charter schools has announced that one third of the students from two of its middle schools who graduated at least ten years ago have completed a four year degree. The report breathlessly notes (emphasis in the original!):
KIPP’s college completion rate is four times the rate of comparable students from low-income communities across the country.
As Jeffrey Henig, a professor of political science in education at Teachers College, Columbia University notes:
"There is good reason to think that KIPP families, even if they are low-income, are atypical in their interest and concern about education," said Henig in a phone interview today. He said that since the report is based on data from the first two KIPP schools, it's likely that the parents of students at those schools were especially highly motivated. "They may be atypical in that as soon as they heard about this option for KIPP schools, they were first in the door and were unusually interested and concerned about their kids' education."

Henig observed that studies that compare students who were selected for the lottery of a charter school and those who weren't selected provide a better comparison. "Then you are effectively comparing motivated families to motivated families."
So, the people who are claiming to have revolutionized education don't know what a valid scientific or statistical study looks like.


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