OKC KIPP Reach Academy named Blue Ribbon School

ByOklahoma City Herald Staff

The US Department of Education announced today that KIPP Reach College Preparatory is a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School. The school, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, is being honored for posting some of the highest achievement scores in the state. KIPP Reach is the first non-selective public school in Oklahoma City to be named a Blue Ribbon School in over 10 years, and the fifth KIPP school to receive this award since 1994.

The National Blue Ribbon School award honors public and private elementary, middle and high schools where students achieve at high levels or where the achievement gap is narrowing. Since 1982, more than 6,500 of America’s schools have received this coveted award.

KIPP Reach is Oklahoma City’s first non-selective public school to be named a National Blue Ribbon School since 2001, when Nichols Hills Elementary School received the distinction. This year’s 269 National Blue Ribbon Schools, including KIPP Reach, will be honored at an awards ceremony on November 12 and 13 in Washington, DC.

“Being named a National Blue Ribbon School is an amazing honor, and a validation of our hard work over the past 10 years,” said KIPP Reach founder and school leader Tracy McDaniel. “Our mission has always been to get underserved students to and through college, and this just reaffirms our commitment to that mission.”

The program recognizes schools in one of two performance categories. The first category is “Exemplary High Performing,” in which schools are recognized among their state’s highest performing schools, as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests. The second category is “Exemplary Improving,” in which schools that have at least 40 percent of their students from disadvantaged backgrounds demonstrate the most progress in improving student achievement levels as measured by state assessments or nationally-normed tests. KIPP is being honored in the “Exemplary High Performing category.”

KIPP Reach College Preparatory, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this fall, is an open-enrollment, tuition-free public charter school located in northeast Oklahoma City, serving 270 students in grades 5 through 8. Eighty-nine percent of KIPP Reach’s students are African-American or Latino, and 83 percent are eligible for federal free or reduced price lunch. Most of KIPP Reach’s students enter 5th grade performing well below grade level; by the time they graduate 8th grade, they are some of the highest-achieving students in the state of Oklahoma. In 2011, KIPP Reach’s graduating 8th grade class outperformed all other middle schools in the state in math and reading, with 100 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced in both subjects.