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Mathematica to Evaluate KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program)

Resource type: News

Mathematica |

PRINCETON, N.J. (March 13, 2008)-Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., has been awarded a contract of approximately $4 million to evaluate the impact of KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program).

KIPP is a national network of free, open-enrollment, college preparatory public schools in underserved communities throughout the United States. The KIPP approach to education includes training outstanding leaders and giving students more time in the classroom, high expectations, a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum, and a strong culture of support.

This study represents the driving external research focus for KIPP over the next five years. The Atlantic Philanthropies, an organization dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people, provided generous lead funding to make this research possible. Philip Gleason, a senior researcher at Mathematica® who specializes in at-risk youth and evaluations of education interventions, will direct the evaluation.

The five-year study will focus on two key research questions:

1. What are the impacts of KIPP middle schools on student achievement and other outcomes, and how do these outcomes compare with those of students at other schools?

2. Does the performance of KIPP students-both within and beyond core academic areas-suggest that they are on a path toward college attainment and persistence?

In order to provide the framework to answer these questions, the evaluation will consist of two key components: (1) an experimental design that will yield impact estimates on a broad range of outcomes at a subset of KIPP middle schools, and (2) a quasi-experimental design that will produce impact estimates at a broader range of KIPP middle schools.

The experimental component will consist of a randomized control trial conducted in KIPP schools that are oversubscribed-with more applicants than spaces available-and that use lotteries to determine which students are offered admission. The lotteries will randomly assign sample members into a treatment group (comprised of those students with access to a KIPP education) or a control group (comprised of students without such access).

Student outcomes over the follow-up period will be measured for both groups and may include the use of school records, principal surveys, student and parent surveys, and results from a test of higher-order thinking skills. The experimental method used here is considered the gold standard for evaluation studies. For the nonexperimental component, Mathematica will collect multiple years of data from school records on KIPP middle school students and students at nearby traditional public schools.

The information will be used to rigorously estimate the KIPP effect by comparing outcomes for KIPP students versus those for a comparison group of students identified as most similar to the KIPP students based on pre-middle school trends in test scores and other characteristics.

With its national reputation for independent research, we are pleased that Mathematica will be conducting this multiyear study on KIPP, said KIPP CEO Richard Barth. By using a highly regarded research methodology, this study will provide clear evidence about the impact of the KIPP education experience on student learning. We believe the findings will be relevant to all of those who are interested in closing the nation’s achievement gap in public education.

More information about this study can be found at

About KIPP

KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, was co-founded by Teach For America alumni Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin in Houston, Texas, in 1994. KIPP has grown to a national network of 57 college preparatory, open-enrollment public schools in 17 states and Washington, D.C. KIPP students typically attend school from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on weekdays, every other Saturday, and for three weeks during the summer. Over 95 percent of students enrolled in KIPP schools are African American or Hispanic/Latino, and more than 80 percent qualify for the federal free and reduced-price meals program. Over 80 percent of students from the first two KIPP Academies have matriculated to college, as compared to community averages of less than 20 percent. By this summer, KIPP will grow to 66 schools in 19 states and Washington, D.C. including two new communities in Columbus and Minneapolis. By 2011, KIPP aims to grow to a network of approximately 100 schools serving over 24,000 students. For a list of current KIPP schools, visit

About Mathematica

Mathematica, a nonpartisan firm, conducts policy research and surveys for federal and state governments, foundations, and private-sector clients both in the U.S. and abroad. The employee-owned company, with offices in Princeton, N.J., Washington, D.C., Cambridge, Mass., and Ann Arbor, Mich., has conducted some of the most important studies of education, disability, health care, early childhood policies, welfare, employment, and nutrition programs in the U.S. Mathematica strives to improve public well-being by bringing the highest standards of quality, objectivity, and excellence to bear on the provision of information collection and analysis to its clients.

About The Atlantic Philanthropies

The Atlantic Philanthropies are dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Atlantic makes grants through its four programme areas – Ageing, Children & Youth, Population Health, and Reconciliation & Human Rights – and through Founding Chairman grants. Programmes funded by Atlantic operate in Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Viet Nam. To learn more, please visit