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Topic: Re: kipp schools and the summertime
Replies: 1   Last Post: Aug 17, 2000 9:53 AM

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Posts: 308
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: kipp schools and the summertime
Posted: Aug 17, 2000 9:02 AM
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Kipp schools maybe far from ideal but their graduates are getting
scholarships into top private schools and passing some standardized tests.
The article does not claim that Kipp schools are the way - only one way.
But let's look at it from the point of view of genetic programming - take
the successful programs and randomly mix components of them with components
of other successful programs to try to discover what works best. By best I
do not mean any single measure like standardized test scores or
scholarships or wages on graduation. In fact, longitudinal tracking of a
statistically significant population on a variety of measures including
non-academic measures is needed. If Dr. Goldenberg can provide example of
schools that are equally successful, we all should listen.

Perhaps Kipp is horribly inefficient, after all: "KIPP Academy, a pair of
public middle schools in poor sections of Houston and the Bronx, requires
70 percent more class time than its counterparts -- including Saturday and
summer sessions." But I think that time on task is crucial. If the
overhead associated with school is relatively fixed, 70% more time in
school may double time on task. Coupled with the behavior requirements,
time on task is likely to be more than doubled. And going to school in the
summer helps with another problem:

August 16, 2000 NYTimes
Summertime for Pupils, When Forgetting Is Easy


Gallup poll taken in July discovered the obvious: the Harry Potter
books are being read by everyone this summer. Well, almost everyone.
Children in low-income families are much less likely to read Harry than
their counterparts in middle- and upper-income families.

This finding will not surprise education experts or teachers, who have
known for decades that economically disadvantaged children fall behind
during the summer months compared with their peers. The problem is that
children from low-income families are less likely to read Harry Potter or
much else during the summer, which causes their skills to atrophy when
school is out of session.

What might be called the "Harry Potter divide" -- the depressed level of
academic engagement in poor households when school is out -- is responsible
for a major portion of the gap in achievement between low- and high-income

The achievement gap has important economic consequences. Several studies
indicate that students who score one standard deviation higher on math and
reading tests -- comparing those at the 15th percentile to those at the
50th percentile, say -- earn, on average, 15 to 20 percent more a year as
adults. And a new study by Christopher Jencks of Harvard University and
Meredith Phillips of the University of California at Los Angeles found that
high school is not too late to make a difference: those whose math test
scores increased between 10th and 12th grade achieved higher incomes later
in life compared with those who started at the same level but did not raise
their scores.
((gosh, I wonder if they used standardized tests in that longitudinal
study? Does that invalidate the whole result? Are you there Lou? RM))

Clearly, raising achievement pays off, and it pays off more today than in
the past because the information age has increased the demand for skilled

Labor force projections, however, indicate a slowdown in the growth of
skilled workers in the next two decades, so the achievement gap between
lower-income students and their counterparts from more affluent families
could crimp the expansion of the economy. In my view, the summer learning
deficit is much more worrisome for economic growth than the trade deficit.

The latest and probably best research on the summer learning gap is in a
1997 book, "Children, Schools and Inequality" (Westview Press) by Doris
Entwisle, Karl Alexander and Linda Olson of Johns Hopkins University. The
three sociologists have been studying a random sample of 800 Baltimore
public school students since they entered first grade in 1982.

At the beginning and end of each school year, students took the California
Achievement Test.

The researchers examined gains and losses in test scores over the school
year and summer break. Students were classified into groups based on their
parents' socioeconomic status, which depended on education, occupation and

Remarkably, children from families of high and low socioeconomic status
made equivalent gains on math and reading exams during the school year. But
the achievement level of children from low-income families either fell or
stagnated during the summer, while children from higher income families
continued to make progress.

The entire achievement gap between children from low- and high-income
families arises from periods when school is out and the period before
children enroll in school. This pattern, which also holds in other studies,
suggests public schools are doing more to help poor children overcome the
obstacles they face in their homes and neighborhoods than is commonly

While Republicans and Democrats spar over using vouchers to reform public
schools, a potential solution to the achievement gap has been overlooked.

Why not give low-income parents a scholarship, or voucher, to send their
children to some type of a summer learning program?

The idea of school vouchers, which is frequently attributed to Milton
Friedman but dates back at least to Thomas Paine, has become "radioactive"
among Democrats, as Jonathan Orzsag, a former official for President
Clinton's National Economic Council, put it. So call this something else,
such as Summer Opportunity Scholarships -- S.O.S. for short.

Only 9 percent of students in the United States attend summer school.
Unlike other voucher programs, summer school scholarships would supplement,
rather than substitute for, the traditional public school system.

The 180-day school year in the United States -- a legacy of a bygone era
when children were needed to work the farm in the summer -- is short by
international standards.

By the end of high school, children in Japan, for example, have had the
equivalent of four more years of schooling than American children. Although
it would be desirable to use the 180-day school year more constructively,
one thing is clear: more time on task helps students learn.

Summer school bolsters achievement if it is focused on specific academic
goals, said Harris Cooper of the University of Missouri. Professor Cooper,
who just published a review of 93 evaluations of separate summer school
programs, said the effect of summer school on student achievement was
"clearly positive" when performance was compared either with participants'
pre-summer scores or with a randomly selected control group of

But summer school runs into a roadblock. Many families and teachers do not
want to be in school year round. Mandated summer school attendance also
carries a stigma, and such programs typically cater to older children who
are already far behind.

Summer scholarships offer a solution. Families could be given a refundable
tax credit or cash grant if they sent their children to a competent
academic enrichment program during the summer.

A range of options already exist, including public school-sponsored summer
schools, private tutoring organizations like the Sylvan and Kumon learning
centers, and education-oriented camps.

Too many children are forced to endure summers like the mythical Harry
Potter of Privet Drive. No books, no trips, no visits to the library; only
a television and loyal owl for company. Giving low-income families
scholarships to send their children to summer enrichment programs could
help narrow the achievement gap and better prepare the work force of


> From: Michael Paul Goldenberg <>
> To:
> Subject: Re: kipp schools
> Date: Wednesday, August 16, 2000 08:26

> the most unthinking means
> imaginable (chanting and rote repetition), methods that would appear to

> nothing whatsoever to do with the kind of original, independent thinking
> that so often leads to real success in this country (success of myriad
> kinds), suddenly we hear that this is THE WAY!

I think chanting and rote repetition do play a very important role in
education. Since this group can't agree** on math ed, I'll use karate
education as a parallel. Pledges like
Quitters never win,
Winners never quit,
I chose to be a winner.
are used and are PART of a successful program.

Hours of drill at ritualized drill (forms and techniques) are PART of a
successful program.

Finally sparring practice and judged competition are PART of a successful
program. The hours of rote drill make the individual moves automatic and
free up resources to concentrate on strategy. It's hard to appreciate how
successful until you tried, really tried, to even touch a blackbelt. It's
rather like debating an expert in another field- he's got ten citations
memorized that shoot holes in every claim you make. Memorization does play
a big role in being an expert.

> Here's an example of what we're supposed to see as a positive step:
> sign contracts enumerating daunting demands -- if they slip up, their
> children can be punished."

I send my kids to a private school. Every year, the entire family has to
sign a contract acknowledging that enrollment is for the current year only.
Everyone has to agree that dismissal from the school may be done at any
time for either academics or ethics. Every year parents are expected to
cover the code of ethics with their children point by point. Dismissals
for behavior problems are rare, <1%. Dismissals for academic reasons are
even rarer - the school goes above and beyond the normal call of duty to
help stragglers.

> ends justify the means!), I have to question how true liberals of any
> affiliation whatsoever could countenance this kind of thing as a basis
> American public education.

It doesn't have to be a basis. But as long as the longitudinal data show a
substantial and continuous improvement over comparison populations, the
method merits observation and to some extent emulation.

> Not only do I find the kind of teaching this
> school is based upon repugnant and insulting to the intelligence of its
> staff and students alike,

Do you have special knowledge that rote drill is the ONLY method used at
Kipp? Do you have knowledge of some performance measure (physical,
intelligence, math achievement, reading achievement, artistic, OR
emotional) on the population in question that shows Kipp is less successful
than a comparison population?

> but I find it outrageous that this model is being
> used, as Alfie Kohn has already pointed out regarding other

> schools, for "those" kinds of kids - the urban poor. Chester Finn, who
> the praises of this school and its ilk in the TIMES article, sent his
> daughter to Exeter. I'm sure his GRANDCHILDREN will attend a Kipp


I doubt that. I read thousands of books outside of school in K-12. My 8
year old read about 60,000 pages over the last year (about 150 books this
summer alone.) We discuss the difficulties and merits of raising children.
I hope that I am imparting the ability to give the same joy of learning to
his own children. The question here is how to break the other cycle: an
absence of home centered learning. I have serious, but not complete,
doubts that public or private schools can provide a viable substitute.
Sure schools are part of education, but they are not the whole thing (with
the exception of that complete abdication: boarding school.)

> >
> > more at
> >

**Actually Wayne and Mike did, in a sense, agree on something I said
recently. Both viciously attacked my characterization of extreme teaching
methods and both accepted the method I had used to teach subtraction with

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