Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Editorial: Study Points the Way to Better Public Schools

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Editorial: Study Points the Way to Better Public Schools

Article excerpt

For most parents, teachers and students in the St. Louis region, today is the first day of spring break.

It's a welcome respite from early morning bus rides, long days in class, homework and the other rigors of the school year.

Loath as we are to interfere with your break, we'd like to recommend some reading, particularly for you adults: There's a study recently completed that examines the record of the highly touted Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) charter schools. It should be mandatory vacation reading for education policy makers.

Here's the CliffsNotes version:

KIPP middle schools work. They raise student performance. They reduce the performance gap between low-income students and their more affluent cohorts. The KIPP experiment offers a model for other charter schools and public schools alike.

The report, issued by Mathematica Policy Research, a well- regarded academic think-tank, shows that KIPP students who come from roughly the same demographic background as their neighbors in public or other charter schools are making regular gains in math, science, reading and social studies. And while the report, which looked at 43 KIPP schools in 13 states and the District of Columbia, didn't draw specific conclusions about which elements of KIPP's program directly led to success, the data pointed to strategies that can be copied in other schools: longer school days, a better use of time and an environment focused consistently on good behavior.

This is important data.

One of the elements too often missing from the debate over how to improve schools is actual evidence to back up claims of future success.

So lawmakers, policy makers, school superintendents, principals and parents should take this study, the second in three years examining KIPP practices, and start applying its lessons.

One of the reasons we have been supportive of the KIPP model as compared to some other charter schools is that the nonprofit organization sees itself as a partner, not a competitor, with public schools. …

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