Today Mathematica Policy Research issued an evaluation of KIPP middle schools. The study found that KIPP middle schools have significant and substantial positive impacts on student achievement in four core academic subjects: reading, math, science, and social studies. Mike Feinberg, co founder of KIPP and TSC Signatory wrote a guest blog for EdWeek providing some background on the report and outlining the key findings.

One of KIPP’s original five organizational pillars is “more time spent learning.” KIPP middle school students spend an average of nine hours per day, for 192 days each year, in school, compared to a 6 ½ hour 180 traditional school calendar. This means that KIPP students, on average, spend nearly fifty percent more time in school than their peers in traditional district schools.

The evaluation is based on a multi-year study beginning in 2008 to understand how effective the KIPP model is for improving student achievement. KIPP signed on because, as Mike Feinberg shared, “we firmly believe that what you measure matters. It’s not enough to break out of the cage; you also have to show that what you’re doing outside the cage is working.”

Mathematica used two methods to draw comparisons: first, they compared KIPP students to their peers in district schools and baseline academic achievement; and second, they compared students who applied for the lottery, but were not accepted against those KIPP students who were accepted through the lottery system.

The study showed that KIPP produces achievement gains across all middle schools and academic subjects, the gains are significant enough to close race- and income-based achievement gaps, and it is not because the schools are recruiting the most able students.

Of course, the study showed room for improvement for KIPP, as KIPP schools generally had lower Special Education and English Language Learner populations and the gains in English and Social Studies were not as large as the Science and Math gains. However, these are small fixes compared to the larger gains seen in the report.

Mr. Feinberg summarized it well. “There are lessons here not just for KIPP, but also for our district counterparts in the communities we serve. School districts can adopt elements of our most successful schools by giving principals more autonomy to establish healthy school cultures and to expand the school day to include more time for learning math and reading without having to sacrifice the other core subjects or the co-curricular classes.”

Let’s hope that with the new findings, we will begin to see even more schools – district and charter – begin to expand learning time nationwide.