Frequently Asked Questions

Select a topic:

1. Common questions about KIPP

2. Questions about KIPP's results

3. Questions about enrolling in KIPP

4. Questions about teaching in KIPP schools

5. Questions about how KIPP is funded

6. Other questions about KIPP



1. Common questions about KIPP

What is the history of KIPP?

KIPP began in 1994 when two teachers, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, launched a fifth-grade public school program in inner-city Houston, TX, after completing their commitment to Teach For America. In 1995, Feinberg established KIPP Academy Middle School in Houston, while Levin returned home to New York City to establish KIPP Academy Middle School in the South Bronx. These two original KIPP Academies quickly became among the highest performing public schools in their communities.

In 2000, Feinberg and Levin partnered with Doris and Don Fisher, the founders of The Gap, to establish the KIPP Foundation, focused on replicating the success of the original KIPP Academies on a national scale.

What is the role of the KIPP Foundation? Does it manage KIPP schools?

The KIPP Foundation recruits, trains, and supports leaders to open locally-managed KIPP schools. The KIPP Foundation supports excellence, growth and sustainability across the network, as well as leads network-wide efforts to innovate and share best practices. The KIPP Foundation also provides a variety of supports and services such as legal services, real estate, technology, finance, governance, operations, communications, marketing, and development.   

What is a charter school?

Charter schools are publicly funded, independently operated schools that are allowed to operate with more autonomy than traditional public schools in exchange for increased accountability. Some charter schools are stand-alone institutions, while others operate as part of larger school networks. Every charter school has an authorizer which, subject to state law, may be a local school or state board, local university, or other entity. Authorizers are responsible for holding charter schools accountable for compliance with their operating agreements (“charters”).

Like all public schools, charter schools are:

  • Tuition-free and open-enrollment
  • Non-sectarian and non-discriminatory
  • Funded primarily through a combination of federal, state and local tax dollars
  • Held to state and federal academic standards

Are all KIPP schools charter schools?

Yes. There are currently 200 KIPP schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia, serving nearly 80,000 students. All of these KIPP schools are public charter schools.

Who attends KIPP schools?

KIPP schools are open-enrollment public schools, serving primarily low-income and minority students. Nationally, more than 88 percent of KIPP students are eligible for the federal free or reduced-price meals program, and 96 percent are African-American or Latino.

What is KIPP's curriculum?

KIPP schools follow the same state and federal curriculum standards as other public schools. Each KIPP region operates autonomously, so teachers and principals have the freedom to adapt the curriculum to create customized, innovative lessons that best meet students’ needs. With its extended school day, there is more time for rich learning experiences, extracurricular activities, and field lessons. 

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2. Questions about KIPP's Results

How does KIPP share student achievement data with the general public?

Each spring the KIPP Foundation releases its annual Report Card, which contains school information, student demographics, and test score data for all KIPP schools that have produced measurable student achievement results. All KIPP schools administer state accountability tests at required grade levels and nationally norm-referenced exams in grades 2-8 (some primary schools also administer the norm-referenced exams to grades K and 1); the KIPP Report Card provides results on these state criterion and nationally norm-referenced exams.

KIPP also works with independent researchers to evaluate the KIPP network’s results. In 2007, KIPP commissioned Mathematica Policy Research to conduct a multi-year longitudinal study of KIPP schools. The first report from the study was released in June 2010. Mathematica’s researchers found that the vast majority of KIPP middle schools are achieving “positive, statistically significant, and educationally substantial” academic gains in math and reading, while serving a student population that has lower entering test scores and a higher percentage of low income students than neighboring public school districts.

What kind of achievement scores do students have before coming to KIPP?    

Most students enter KIPP as fifth-graders performing well below grade level in reading and math, but make great academic strides while at KIPP. By the time these students complete eighth grade at KIPP, the majority of students are at or above grade level. View our annual Report Card to see school-specific results.

What do we know about the gains that students make at KIPP? 

The 2010 Mathematica report concluded that that KIPP schools typically have a positive, statistically significant, and educationally substantial impact on student achievement.

Over a three-year period, researchers found that academic impacts were equivalent to 1.2 and 0.9 years of additional instruction in math and reading, respectively.

Are KIPP students going on to earn college degrees?

As of spring 2015, 44 percent of KIPP students have earned a four-year college degree after finishing eighth grade at a KIPP middle school ten or more years ago. This is above the national average for all students (34 percent), and five times the rate for students from low-income families nationwide (9 percent). An additional 6 percent of KIPP alumni have graduated from two-year colleges. 

While KIPP students have impressive college results so far, we still have a long way to go to reach our goal of KIPP students graduating college at a rate comparable to their highest-income peers.

At KIPP, our model is not only based on rigorous academic preparation, but also on integrating character development into everyday lessons to help students prepare for the challenges of college and life. Developing character strengths like zest, grit, and optimism is a key part of KIPP’s college-preparatory approach. To learn more about our focus on college persistence, view our College Completion Report.

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3. Questions about enrolling in KIPP

How does enrollment work at KIPP schools?

New KIPP schools start with a single grade level and then admit one additional grade level each year until reaching full enrollment. For example, new KIPP middle schools open with a founding fifth grade class, then admit fifth and sixth graders the next year, then fifth through seventh graders the year after that, then fifth through eighth graders the year after that.

Once KIPP schools reach full enrollment, enrollment is based on how many spaces are available in each class.

Are there admissions requirements at KIPP schools?

There is no application or selection process to enroll at KIPP. Any student can attend a local KIPP school, as long as they meet the residency requirements of the local school district and there is space available at their grade level.

Each school holds a random lottery to determine admission if the number of student applicants is greater than the number of spaces available. Lotteries are typically held in the late winter or early spring (please use our School Directory to check with the local site for specific dates and details). All students who apply after the date of the lottery are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis, regardless of socioeconomic background or academic record. 

How does KIPP recruit students?

Individual KIPP schools have a variety of methods for recruiting students, from community meetings to advertisements in a local newspaper. Many KIPP principals also recruit door-to-door in the communities around their schools, to make sure that families know that KIPP is an available educational option for their children.

How can I enroll my child in a KIPP school?

The enrollment process is managed on the local level. Please visit in our School Directory to select your city and school to contact them directly.

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4. Questions about teaching in KIPP schools

What is the experience and background of a typical KIPP teacher?

KIPP teachers are the heart and soul of KIPP schools. There are currently more than 5,000 KIPP teachers nationwide, and each shares the fundamental belief that all children can and will learn.

KIPP teachers are a diverse group, including experienced teachers who have worked in schools serving underserved students, new teachers who are just beginning their careers and career changers who are entering the classroom after succeeding in another profession.

Across our network, 43 percent of our teachers are African-American or Latino, about 23 percent are Teach For America alumni, and 27 percent hold master's degrees.

What makes teaching at KIPP unique?

KIPP’s longstanding motto—“Work hard. Be nice.”—isn’t just a tagline. Since the beginning, we’ve believed in a balanced approach to education: hard work and a strong academic curriculum balanced with the development of the character strengths needed to succeed in college and in life. While each KIPP school looks a bit different, all KIPP schools follow a set of Five Pillars, the core beliefs all KIPP teachers share and that guide the day to day interactions of our teachers and students.

Because of these beliefs and our pillar of “More Time”, KIPP teachers work an extended school day and year to make more time in the day for rich learning experiences, character instruction, and field lessons. This extra time allows KIPP teachers to focus on what’s most important: students. KIPP also puts a high priority on collaboration and professional development, and the extended school day gives KIPP teachers time for common lesson planning and sharing ideas. Specific teacher schedules vary by region, and you can click here to see examples from several KIPP locations.

To compensate for the additional time they work during the year, KIPP teachers typically receive a salary that is higher than they would receive in neighboring public schools. Through our KIPP School Leadership Programs, we develop leaders through our multi-tiered leadership development. We know that the work of educators is incredibly complex and challenging, and we approach professional development of educators with the utmost intentionality.

While each KIPP school is unique, all are united in a common mission: to get all KIPP students to and through college.

What professional development is available to KIPP teachers?

KIPP values teachers as professionals and all KIPP teachers have access to various professional development opportunities to continue improving their craft. While local professional development programs vary to address the specific needs of KIPP teachers, the KIPP Foundation provides regular national training and professional development for all KIPP teachers, anchored by the annual KIPP School Summit each August. Through ongoing content area workshops during the school year and online collaboration and communities provided through KIPP Share, our network wide sharing platform, teachers can share lesson plans with colleagues across the hall or across the country and gain new skills to improve their classroom practice.

Learn more about the Professional Development opportunities available to KIPP teachers by visiting our Professional Development page.

What are the requirements for teaching at a KIPP school?

KIPP is always looking for excellent teachers. The primary requirement for teaching at a KIPP school is a belief in a very simple concept: that we will do whatever it takes to help each and every student develop the character and academic skills necessary for them to lead self-sufficient, successful and happy lives.

KIPP schools comply with any applicable state and federal laws, and certification requirements for charter school teachers vary by state. While many KIPP schools look for candidates with at least two years of prior teaching experience, several also have programs designed specifically for those new to teaching. Click here to learn more.

Each KIPP school is managed locally, and hiring decisions are made at the level of the individual school. For more information about the requirements to teach at a specific KIPP school, please visit our School Directory to access an individual school’s website. Please note that to be considered for a teaching position at a KIPP school, you must have legal authorization to work in the United States.

How can teachers apply to teach at KIPP?

The application process for teaching jobs is handled locally by individual KIPP schools or regions. Potential teachers can apply to work in a KIPP school by visiting the Careers section of our website and following the instructions in the job posting, or by contacting a KIPP school directly through our Schofol Directory. For more information on the application process, click here.

Are you planning to open a KIPP school in [city / state]? Why not?

KIPP’s growth is focused on opening new elementary and high schools to complete a Kindergarten through 12th grade continuum for KIPP students in the communities we currently serve. We are also in the process of determining new sites to open KIPP schools as we work toward our goal of serving 120,000 students across the country by 2020. Please check the School Directory for a current list of all KIPP school locations and updates on our plans to open new KIPP schools.

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5. Questions about how KIPP is funded

How are KIPP schools funded?

Because KIPP schools are public charter schools, they are primarily funded through a combination of federal, state and local dollars. However, per-pupil funding for public schools varies widely by state, and the majority of KIPP schools also receive less public funding than traditional district schools. If needed, KIPP school leaders and regional executive directors will often raise philanthropic funds to make up the difference in funding for their schools, fund facility costs, fund growth, and build cash reserves.

According to our most recent analysis, in the 2009-10 school year, 85 percent of KIPP’s annual operating expenses, on average, was funded by public revenues, student fees and other local revenue (e.g., interest income). The remaining 15 percent was funded by philanthropic contributions.

To learn more about KIPP's funders or how to support KIPP, visit the Support KIPP section. 

Are KIPP schools more expensive to operate than regular public schools?

In our most recent analysis, in the 2007-08 school year (the last year for which data is easily accessible for KIPP schools and their local districts), less than half of KIPP schools spent more in operating expenses per student than the local district. One expense that KIPP schools incur that regular public schools do not is for our KIPP Through College program, which supports students after they complete KIPP middle schools through college.  

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6. Other questions about KIPP

Why do KIPP middle schools start with fifth grade instead of sixth?

KIPP co-founders Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin both served as fifth grade teachers as a part of the Teach For America program, and saw how important it was for students to get on a college-ready track in fifth grade rather than waiting for middle school. KIPP began as a fifth grade program and the original KIPP Academies in Houston and New York were middle schools serving grades five through eight.

As KIPP has expanded, we have refocused our efforts on providing a comprehensive Pre K – 12th grade education. The first KIPP elementary and high schools opened in 2004, and KIPP’s network of schools now encompasses all grades with 80 elementary schools, 94 middle schools, and 26 high schools across the country. 

How many students stay at KIPP from year to year?

KIPP tracks the number of students who stay with us annually, and publishes this in our Report Card. In the 2014-15 year, 89 percent of our students returned in the fall or completed the highest grade in their schools, up from 84 percent in 2006-07.

We are committed to ensuring that as many students stay with us from year to year, even though our schools are located in communities with traditionally high mobility rates. The 2010 Mathematica Study found that KIPP’s student attrition is not systematically higher or lower than that of neighboring district schools.

Does KIPP keep track of its alumni who go on to college?

KIPP carefully tracks the students who graduate eighth grade from KIPP middle schools and/or enroll in ninth grade at KIPP high schools. Since KIPP began in 1994, 94 percent of students who completed eighth grade at KIPP five or more years ago have graduated from high school, and 81 percent have matriculated to college. 

As of fall 2015, 44 percent of KIPP students have earned a four-year college degree after finishing eighth grade at a KIPP middle school ten or more years ago. This is above the national average for all students (34 percent), and five times the rate for students from low-income families nationwide (9 percent). An additional 6 percent of KIPP alumni have graduated from two-year colleges. 

While KIPP students have impressive college results so far, we still have a long way to go to reach our goal of KIPP students graduating college at a rate comparable to their highest-income peers. To learn more about our focus on college persistence, view our 2011 College Completion Report.

We follow our alumni through a program called KIPP Through College (KTC). KTC aims to empower each middle school and high school graduate to continue using the scholarly habits, knowledge, and skills they learned at KIPP schools as they continue on the path to college (and beyond).

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KIPP is committed to equal treatment for all individuals. KIPP does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, disability, age, religion, sexual orientation, or national or ethnic origin.
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