Mathematica Research on KIPP Public Schools
In 2007, KIPP commissioned independent research firm Mathematica Policy Research to conduct a multi-year study of our schools. We wanted to find out whether we were truly fulfilling our promises to students and families and to make that information publicly known.
Mathematica’s first two reports, released in 2010 and 2013, examined the impacts of KIPP middle schools on student achievement and behavior. A 2015 report, conducted in conjunction with our federal Investing in Innovation (i3) Scale-Up Grant, examined KIPP’s impacts in grades preK-12 as well as our middle school impacts over time. A 2017 Mathematica report studied the impact of KIPP's pre-K programs on student learning over time. Mathematica's 2019 report studied the long-term impacts of KIPP middle schools on college enrollment and early college persistence. The most recent Mathematica report, published in September 2023, builds on the 2019 study by introducing a new analysis that separately examines the effects of attending both a KIPP middle school and a KIPP high school.
Mathematica 2023 Report
Long-Term Impacts of KIPP Middle and High Schools on College Enrollment, Persistence, and Attainment
Released September 2023
In 2023, Mathematica released a study showing that students who attended KIPP for both middle and high school were nearly twice as likely to persist and graduate from a four-year college compared to their peers who did not attend KIPP.
This report builds on the 2019 Mathematica study which examined what impact KIPP middle schools have on students’ college enrollment and persistence. Mathematica built on this previous study in two important ways—1) adding a third cohort of students and tracking the students over a longer period of time, and 2) introducing a new analysis that separately examines the effects of attending both a KIPP middle school and a KIPP high school.
The study followed 2,066 students from ten regions who applied to join KIPP in 5th and 6th grade via an admissions lottery. These students graduated from high school in the classes of 2016, 2017, and 2019. The students’ college enrollments, college persistence, and degree completion were tracked through the Spring of 2022. Researchers tracked the college enrollment and persistence patterns of all three cohorts for at least three years after high school graduation. For the first two cohorts, the study focused on college enrollment, persistence, and graduation rates five years after graduation.
The study concludes that students who persist at KIPP from middle school to high school experience a large, long-term boost in their college outcomes—a much larger effect than the impact of KIPP middle schools alone. This data supports KIPP’s internal analysis that suggests the longer students stay at KIPP, the better the outcomes.
Attending both a KIPP middle school and a KIPP high school positively impacts college enrollment, persistence, and attainment. Students who attended KIPP for middle school and high school were nearly twice as likely to persist and graduate from a four-year college compared to their peers who did not attend KIPP. In addition, KIPP students were 67% more likely to enroll in college than those who did not attend KIPP.
KIPP schools are closing the college completion gap. Nationally, 45% of white adults between the ages of 25 to 29 have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 26% of Black adults and 23% of Latinx adults. This study found that KIPP middle and high schools have a combined effect of approximately 19 percentage points on college completion rates for a group of students that is almost entirely composed of Black or Latinx students. Thus, the impact of attending a KIPP middle and high school, extrapolated nationwide, would be large enough to close the degree completion gap for Black students and nearly close the degree completion gap for Latinx students in the United States.
KIPP’s college-preparatory support contributed to these promising outcomes. Mathematica researchers conducted interviews with 10 KIPP school counselors and staff in the regions represented in the study to determine what factors may have contributed to the positive results. These interviews revealed three key factors:
- A rigorous high school experience, where Advanced Placement (AP) courses are available to all students.
- Robust support in the college application and financial aid processes, including the College & Career Match program which pairs every KIPP high schooler with a college counselor who helps students identify and apply to college programs that are well matched to their capabilities, goals, and needs.
- Continued support for KIPP alumni, for example, advisors or peer mentors who meet with alumni to check in on their academic progress.
Students Representing the Study
Makala, Levi, Terrell, and Harlen are four KIPP students who attended a KIPP middle school and high school during the years Mathematica conducted this research. They represent the thousands of students positively impacted by KIPP’s college-ready curriculum and support.
Makala Faniel first walked through the University of Pennsylvania campus in middle school while attending KIPP WAYS in Atlanta. Today, she is a UPenn graduate and a cancer research assistant at Georgia Tech University while getting her PhD in bioengineering. Makala credits her counselors at KIPP Atlanta Collegiate High School for introducing her to college fly-in programs, where they invite BIPOC students from low-income communities to visit colleges for free.
As a DACA recipient, Levi Tristan thought the road to college would be difficult. Today, he is a graduate of Lycoming College and working in the IT consulting industry. Lycoming College wasn’t even in the top 5 or 10 on his college list, but the counselors at KIPP College Prep High School in Austin encouraged him to apply. Counselors helped him see what he could afford, and he got an almost full ride to Lycoming. “It was the best decision of my life, the best experience; I developed the best friendships,” he says.
Terrell Cornelius fell in love with Tufts University during a fly-in weekend trip his counselor at KIPP NYC College Prep told him about. Today, he has a job in emergency preparedness in Medford, Mass. He attended KIPP Star Middle School, and he says that really prepared him for his high school experience. He attended college and career college classes weekly, where he worked on his personal statement and navigated the application process with the help of caring KIPP counselors. “I never felt lost, I always felt prepared,” he says.
Harlen Nolasco entered 5th grade at KIPP Infinity in New York at a below-average reading level. By the time he was a senior at KIPP NYC College Prep, he was a finalist for the Posse Scholarship Program and received a close-to-free ride to St. Olaf College. Today, he is working toward becoming a physical therapist. His transition to college was easier because while in high school, he got into a program his counselors told him about where he stayed at the Colorado Rocky Mountain college campus and took courses.
Mathematica 2019 Report
Long-Term Impacts of KIPP Middle Schools on College Enrollment and Early College Persistence
Released September 2019
In 2019, Mathematica released a study showing the impact of attending KIPP middle school could erase the racial achievement gap in four-year college enrollment rates nationwide. The study’s goal was to examine what impact KIPP middle schools have on students’ enrollment in a four-year college and what impact they had on college persistence during the first two years after high school graduation.
The study followed 1,177 students who applied to enter one of 13 KIPP middle schools through a 5th or 6th grade admission lottery in 2008 and 2009. The study tracked these students through their middle school experiences in Los Angeles, San Lorenzo, California, San Antonio, Houston, Austin, Dallas, Washington D.C., New York City, Atlanta, East Point, Georgia and Lynn, Massachusetts.
The findings are especially notable because it’s the first study that examines the outcomes of students who only attended the program for a short time in middle school. The KIPP students Mathematica followed for this study spent at least a year, and on average, close to three and a half years at a KIPP middle school. Mathematica’s analysis is distinct from KIPP’s reported college matriculation number (80%) which tracks students who graduated from 8th grade at a KIPP middle school or attended a KIPP high school and who enrolled to a four-year and two-year college program.
KIPP middle schools boost college enrollment. The study found “attending KIPP following a middle school lottery produced an increase of 12.9 percentage points in enrollment rates in four-year college programs,” which means that “the impact of attending a KIPP school would be almost large enough to erase the nationwide racial disparity in college enrollment rates.” The national gap in college enrollment rates in 2017 between White students and Black or Latinx students for any college type was approximately 14 percentage points.
Students who attended a KIPP middle school were more likely to enroll in a four-year college program right after high school. Overall 52 percent of students who attended KIPP enrolled in a four-year college within two years after high school graduation, compared to 39 percent who did not attend KIPP.
Students who attended a KIPP middle school persisted at higher rates in the first two years of college, than those who did not attend a KIPP middle school. Given the age of the students, Mathematica was only able to follow students through their first two years of college. The study showed a positive upward trend on college persistence but not yet statistically significant. According to the study “33 percent of students who attended KIPP enrolled immediately in a four-year college program after high school and persisted in college for four consecutive semesters, compared to 24 percent of students who did not attend KIPP.”View Full Report
The 2023 Mathematica study results supersede these findings.
Mathematica 2017 Report
Pre-Kindergarten Impacts Over Time: An Analysis of KIPP Charter Schools
Released August 2017
In 2017, Mathematica built on a previous study of KIPP elementary schools to estimate the impact of an offer of admission to a KIPP Pre-K program and explore whether any impacts persist as students advance beyond kindergarten. In the report, early evidence suggests KIPP Pre-K programs have lasting positive impacts on student achievement. Researchers collected data from KIPP SHINE and KIPP SHARP in Houston and KIPP LEAP in Washington, DC for this study.
- KIPP pre-K has a significant positive impact on student achievement: After five years, students who won an offer of admission to a KIPP pre-K program through a random lottery had higher reading and math achievement than pre-K students who did not win an offer. For example, the study showed that scores on the Letter-Word Identification (reading skills) assessment improved by nearly 14 percentage points, moving KIPP pre-K students from the 66th to the 80th percentile. On the Applied Problems (math skills) assessment, KIPP pre-K students moved from roughly the 47th to the 60th percentile.
- KIPP early childhood programs may help students gain executive functioning skills: KIPP pre-K combined with KIPP early elementary school may also positively affect students’ executive function, including their working memory and ability to follow instructions, although most findings were not significant. Executive function skills are widely believed to be related to students’ long-term academic success.
- KIPP pre-K appears to offer an additional benefit above and beyond the impact of the KIPP elementary grades: The reading impacts of KIPP elementary schools that offered pre-K were larger than those of KIPP elementary schools that did not offer pre-K, although the differences were not statistically significant.
- The impact of KIPP pre-K on reading skills persists into second grade: Students who won an offer of admission to KIPP pre-K appear to maintain an advantage in reading skills over their second-grade peers who did not win an offer. The size of their advantage in reading comprehension appears to decrease, but not disappear, over time. Although some studies show that the positive impacts of some pre-K and other early childhood programs eventually decrease or disappear, this study suggests that the combination of KIPP pre-K and KIPP early elementary school may have more lasting impacts.
PublicationsDownload the Report
“New Study: KIPP Pre-K Has Big — and Possibly Lasting — Impact on Early Student Achievement”
The 74 Million, August 2017
“5 Key Things You Need to Know About Important New Study on the Benefits of KIPP Pre-K”
The 74 Million, August 2017
Mathematica 2015 Report
Understanding the Impact of KIPP as it Scales
Released September 2015
In 2015, Mathematica released the report from their five-year i3 Scale-Up Grant Evaluation of KIPP Public Schools. This is the first report ever to include KIPP schools at all K-12 levels, including elementary and high schools as well as middle schools. The report also examines KIPP’s middle school impacts over the past decade.
- KIPP elementary schools have positive, statistically significant, and educationally meaningful impacts on three of four measures of reading and mathematics skills.
- Consistent with prior research, KIPP middle schools have positive, statistically significant, and educationally meaningful impacts on student achievement in math, reading, science, and social studies. Average impacts of middle schools were positive and statistically significant throughout the 10-year period covered by the study, though higher in earlier years than recent years.
- KIPP high schools have positive, statistically significant, and educationally meaningful impacts on student achievement for high school students new to the KIPP network. For students continuing to KIPP high schools from KIPP middle schools, impacts on achievement are not statistically significant. For this group of continuing KIPP students, KIPP high schools have positive impacts on a variety of college preparation activities and the likelihood of applying to college.
- On surveys of student motivation, engagement, behavior, and educational aspirations, KIPP schools showed no significant impact. However, KIPP elementary and middle schools had positive impacts on parent satisfaction.
PublicationsDownload Executive Summary View Full Report Download Fact Sheet
“KIPP charter school students show lasting achievement gains, study finds”
Houston Chronicle, September 2015
“Study: Nation’s largest charter school network has huge educational impact”
Washington Examiner, September 2015
Mathematica 2013 Report
KIPP Middle Schools: Impacts on Achievement and Other Outcomes
Released February 2013
In 2013, Mathematica released the second report from their multi-year study of KIPP middle schools. This report looks at KIPP’s middle school impacts on student achievement and other outcomes, while also addressing prevalent myths around KIPP’s enrollment practices, attrition, and parental motivation.
- KIPP middle schools have positive and statistically significant impacts on student achievement across all years and all subject areas examined. According to a matched comparison design study, KIPP students showed gains in math, reading, science, and social studies on state assessments. This finding confirms that we have been able to maintain the quality of our middle schools as we have expanded our network.
- The magnitude of KIPP’s achievement impacts is substantial. Across all grade levels and subjects studied, KIPP’s achievement impacts are large enough to be educationally significant.
- The matched comparison design produces estimates of KIPP’s achievement impacts similar to estimates of the same impacts based on an experimental, lottery-based design. Researchers found that KIPP’s achievement gains are similar for the matched comparison design and the experimental lottery analysis–demonstrating that parental motivation cannot explain our student’s achievement gains.
- In the lottery sample, average KIPP impacts on a nationally normed test that includes items assessing higher-order thinking skills were similar to impacts on high-stakes state tests. For students in the lottery sample, gains on the national norm referenced test mimicked those on state tests.
PublicationsDownload Executive Summary View Full Report
“Mathematica 2013 Study: KIPP Charter School Students Outperform Public School Peers”
Huffington Post, February 2013
“KIPP Schools Boost Academic Performance, Study Finds”
Education Week, February 2013
Mathematica 2010 Report
Student Characteristics & Achievement in 22 KIPP Middle Schools
Released June 2010
Mathematica’s first major study on KIPP Public Schools was released in 2010. At the time, this report was the first to apply a rigorous methodological approach to studying achievement across multiple KIPP schools.
- The vast majority of KIPP middle schools produced positive and statistically significant impacts on student achievement. Students from these schools showed gains in reading and math in all four years after they entered KIPP.
- Achievement gains at KIPP middle schools are large. Three years after entering KIPP schools, many students experience achievement gains that are approximately equivalent to an additional year of instruction—enough to substantially narrow race- and income-based achievement gaps.
- Students who enter KIPP middle schools typically have lower achievement than the average for their school districts. Compared to neighboring district schools, KIPP middle schools have student bodies characterized by higher concentrations of poverty and racial minorities, but lower concentrations of special education and limited English proficiency students.
- Most KIPP middle schools do not have higher levels of attrition than nearby district schools. When compared to other surrounding public schools, Mathematica’s researchers did not find a pattern of high attrition among the 22 KIPP schools they studied.
PublicationsDownload Executive Summary View Full Report
“Study supports KIPP success; Review shows school isn’t gaming system”
Houston Chronicle, June 2010
“KIPP Middle Schools Found to Spur Learning Gains”
Education Week, June 2010
- Impact on Public Ed
- National Results