Who Benefits from KIPP?

Peer-reviewed Publication

Joshua D. Angrist, Susan M. Dynarski, Thomas J. Kane, Parag A. Pathak, Christopher R. Walters

June 2012

In the first randomized lottery study of a Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) school, researchers Joshua Angrist, Susan Dynarski, Thomas Kane, Parag Pathak, and Christopher Walters discover that the students who benefit the most from KIPP are those coming in furthest behind.

The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) is the nation’s largest charter school management organization, and schools in the KIPP network are emblematic of the No Excuses approach to public education. Features of No Excuses schools include a long school day, an extended school year, selective teacher hiring, strict behavior norms, and a focus on traditional reading and math skills. The study exploits admissions lotteries to measure the impact of KIPP Academy Lynn on student math and reading scores. Notably, KIPP Academy Lynn can be characterized as mostly Hispanic with a high concentration of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and special need students. While charter critics have argued that these groups of students are typically underserved, the study of KIPP Academy Lynn, finds the opposite. That is, it is precisely these students, groups with low incoming achievement levels, benefit the most from time spent at KIPP. The reading gains, for instance, emerge almost entirely for the group of LEP students.