Some comments from the NYCED listserve:
Leonie Haimson:You can leave comments at the WaPost; Caroline Grannan of PAA was the first person I know of to note high attrition levels at KIPP schools. Even if it’s true re Whitehurst’s comments below re the mathematica study, showing comparable attrition levels at matched public schools, this ignores the fact that the low-achieving students at public schools go back into the pub. School system; while the struggling students at KIPP leave KIPP altogether; considerably enhancing their test scores.
Caroline Grannan: The supposedly "comparable" attrition is NOT comparable. Mathematica is giving out misleading information, a sin of omission.
Yes, there is high mobility at public schools serving low-income students, but the crucial difference is that public schools replace the students who leave, and KIPP schools don't. (It's not that they necessarily have a policy of not doing so, but the numbers show definitively that they simply don't.)
As the most at-risk, challenged students tend to be low-performing and high-mobility, the students who leave KIPP schools and are not replaced tend to be the lower-performing students. At public schools, students who leave are replaced with similarly high-mobility students.
A study of San Francisco Bay Area KIPP schools by SRI International showed that the schools lost 60% of their students, and that those students were consistently the lowest performers. Thus the KIPP schools wound up with only the highest-performing 40% of their students. (This study was apparently underway while I was doing my research and was released later -- it used data that I didn't have access to, giving the achievement levels of the students who left KIPP schools.)
The information about KIPP attrition also sheds a different light on the supposed "long waiting lists" that KIPP schools have -- as supposedly shown in "Waiting for Superman." If the lower-performing students are streaming out the door, as the data definitively proves, aren't there spots opening up all the time for the supposed eager hordes waiting to get into KIPP schools?
Again, Mathematica is giving out misleading information and needs to be refuted.
Study Finds High Dropout Rates for Black Males in KIPP Schools
KIPP charter middle schools enroll a significantly higher proportion of African-American students than the local school districts they draw from, but 40 percent of the black males they enroll leave between grades 6 and 8, says a new nationwide study by researchers at Western Michigan University and Teachers College, Columbia University.
“The dropout rate for African-American males is really shocking,” said Gary J. Miron, a professor of evaluation, measurement, and research at Western Michigan University, in Kalamazoo, and the lead researcher for the study. “KIPP is doing a great job of educating students who persist, but not all who come.”
articles/2011/03/31/27kipp_ep. h30.html?tkn=TVVFjx6pS% 2F3QXxwZpXXoJbMnmNSLeyGYhryE& cmp=clp-edweek
Study Says Charter Network Has Financial Advantages Over Public Schools
New York Times
Most charter schools receive less government money for each student, on average, than traditional public schools.
But the KIPP network, one of the fastest-growing and most academically successful charter groups, has received more taxpayer dollars per student than regular public schools, according to a new study, which also noted that KIPP receives substantial amounts of private philanthropic money.
In Fight for Space, Educator Takes On Charter Chain
Published: March 27, 2011
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Joel I. Klein, the former schools chancellor, are strong supporters of charter schools. Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Klein have repeatedly told principals at New York City’s traditional public schools that a new age of reform has dawned, that charter schools are the cutting edge and that if these principals want traditional public schools to survive, they must learn to compete in the educational marketplace.