Inputs and Impacts in Charter Schools: KIPP Lynn

May 2010
Susan Dynarski, Joshua Angrist, Thomas Kane, Parag Pathak, Christopher Walters

The charter school landscape includes a variety of organizational models and a few national franchises. The nation's largest network of charter schools is the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), with 80 schools operating or slated to open soon. KIPP schools target low income and minority students and subscribe to an approach some have called No Excuses (Abigail Thernstrom and Stephen Thernstrom 2003). No Excuses schools feature a long school day and year, selective teacher hiring, strict behavior norms, and encourage a strong student work ethic. KIPP schools have often been central in the debate over whether schools alone can substantially reduce racial achievement gaps. Descriptive accounts of KIPP suggest positive achievement effects (see, e.g., Jay Mathews 2009), but critics argue that the apparent KIPP advantage reflects differences between students who attend traditional public schools and students that choose to attend KIPP schools (see, e.g., Martin Carnoy, Rebecca Jacobsen, Lawrence Mishel, and Richard Rothstein 2005). There are few well-controlled studies of KIPP schools that might help sort out these competing claims, and none that focus on KIPP.