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In addition to bringing in the era of post-partisanship, our President also promised to look at any and all scientific research to help him in his policy recommendations – especially when it comes to school policy. Add this to the list of research on school competition and choice that will be systematically ignored for the next 7 years.

Who Benefits from KIPP?
by Joshua D. Angrist, Susan M. Dynarski, Thomas J. Kane, Parag A. Pathak, Christopher R. Walters  –  #15740 (CH ED LS PE)


Charter schools affiliated with the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) are emblematic of the No Excuses approach to public education.  These schools feature a long school day, an extended school year, selective teacher hiring, strict behavior norms and a focus on traditional reading and math skills.  We use applicant lotteries to evaluate the impact of KIPP Academy Lynn, a KIPP charter school that is mostly Hispanic and has a high concentration of limited English proficiency (LEP) and special-need students, groups that charter critics have argued are typically under-served.  The results show overall gains of
0.35 standard deviations in math and 0.12 standard deviations in reading for each year spent at KIPP Lynn.  LEP students, special education students, and those with low baseline scores benefit more from time spent at KIPP than do other students, with reading gains coming almost entirely from the LEP group.

0.35 standard deviations per year is enormous. I am sure the effects are not the same for all years of schooling – but if you take a kid with this improvement and keep him in KIPP for 3 years he seems to increase his performance by one full standard deviation. How much is this? Imagine students are normally distributed in the testing distribution. Two-thirds of students will fall within one standard deviation of the mean. In other words, if a student at the 33rd percentile of the scoring distribution is a half-standard deviation from the average, which in turn is a half-standard deviation below the student at the 67th percentile of the scoring distribution.

So, a one standard deviation improvement in math scores is like taking a kid at the 33rd percentile and moving him up to the 67th percentile in the scoring distribution. You’d be hard pressed to find an improvement like that from other places.

What kind of evidence would the President, the governors, local school boards and the teachers’ unions require before they acknowledged that competition was a decent idea? If not this, then what?

Imagine there are 100 students in a population evenly distributed

5 Responses to “More Evidence on Charter Schools”

  1. Harry says:

    Then nothing.

    My question: how many studies are needed to prove that the three r’s are the foundation of learning?

  2. wintercow20 says:

    Nah Harry, they’ll just keep creating community gardening programs. Check this out: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/201001/school-yard-garden

  3. Speedmaster says:

    >> “What kind of evidence would the President, the governors, local school boards and the teachers’ unions require before they acknowledged that competition was a decent idea?”

    They’re of course not mutually exclusive beliefs, competition IS a great idea for reasons of outcomes, quality, and competition, and those are exactly the reasons why competition is bad for the unions. 😉

  4. jb says:

    You guys are not keeping up with the “liberal” rhetoric of the day. Haven’t you heard? Now they claim they have seen the light and…there is not ENOUGH competition…in healthcare that is…so we need to provide a “public choice” alternative to compete with the profit-seeking private sector insurance companies. And don’t give me that excuse about allowing me to buy insurance in other states to promote competition…go straight to a govt option…oy.

  5. Harry says:

    Speaking of education, and the 3R’s, I hope Wintercow will not mind my posting a blatantly unrelated story on his blog which blew me away today. (I guess it is related to education, since it is at its core about ignorance.)

    Today I happened to be talking to two local real estate agents, and the conversation turned to business. I said, “But around here the real estate market is getting better, right? I mean we were never hit as bad here as in Florida, or California, or New Jersey, right?”

    They hesitated, not giving me any reassurance. Not a good sign.

    One of them said, “It’s not over, Harry. Just last week we closed on a house where a guy closed on a house with $1500 down, and not only got his $1500 back but another $1500.” [Note: I’m not sure they said he got $1500 additional. It may have been more.]

    I said, “Oh yeah, but all that Freddy Mac stuff is done, right?”

    [File my comment under education/listening to the teacher]

    He said, “No, we’re not talking about last year, we’re talking about last week. This was net after closing costs and paying us. The guy walked out with a house PLUS $1500. Harry, I’m telling you, it is not over.”

    My next question was, “How can you rig it so I can get that deal, say, 200,000 times?” We all chuckled.

    I am sure Wintercow’s esteemed and famous brother has encountered many people who might have the wherewithal to consider that question more seriously, adding a few zeroes to the equation.

    My apologies for the off-topic digression, Wintercow. I thought your blog deserved the latest hot economic news from southeastern Pennsylvania.

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