Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) in middle schools

Evidence Rating  
Evidence rating: Scientifically Supported

Strategies with this rating are most likely to make a difference. These strategies have been tested in many robust studies with consistently positive results.

Health Factors  
Decision Makers
Date last updated

The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) is a nonprofit network of public charter schools that emphasize high expectations for all students, parent and student commitment, empowered principals with flexibility in budgeting and personnel, and regular student assessments that inform continuous improvement. KIPP schools require approximately 9 hours per day, 192 days per year, including one Saturday per school month; traditional public schools (TPS) require an average of 6.6 hours per day and 180 days per school year1. KIPP schools serve primarily low income students. Larger proportions of KIPP students are black, Latino, or low income than students in nearby TPS and smaller proportions of KIPP students have limited English proficiency or special needs1, 2. When enrollment requests exceed school capacity, student admission is based on a lottery system. KIPP started as a middle school program and began expanding into elementary and high schools in 20043.

What could this strategy improve?

Expected Benefits

Our evidence rating is based on the likelihood of achieving these outcomes:

  • Increased academic achievement

What does the research say about effectiveness?

There is strong evidence middle schools that follow the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) model improve students’ academic outcomes more than traditional public schools (TPS). KIPP middle schools yield better student outcomes in reading and math1, 4, 5, 6, 7, and can improve students’ achievement in science and social science1, 4 more than TPS. KIPP may yield the largest gains for minorities, low income and low performing students, and students with limited English skills8. KIPP achievement effects do not appear to be explained by student prior achievement, attrition, or replacement patterns9.

"No Excuses" charter schools, such as KIPP, that offer frequent teacher feedback, use data to assess and modify instruction, intensively tutor students, offer more instructional time than TPS, and demand rigorous behavioral and academic performance can yield better academic outcomes than other charter schools10, 11. KIPP schools also appear to increase parents’ satisfaction with their child’s school. KIPP schools do not appear to affect student’s progression4, motivation, behavior, or aspirations3.

KIPP middle schools that enact more comprehensive school-wide behavioral systems or spend more time on academics have been linked with stronger academic effects than KIPP schools that do not. KIPP schools with days longer than nine hours may not improve academic outcomes more than schools with shorter days, perhaps because the additional hours are not typically spent on core academic activities1.

As the KIPP network has expanded, KIPP middle schools continue to demonstrate significant improvements in reading and math, although effect sizes vary. Early studies of KIPP elementary schools suggest attendees have better academic outcomes than their peers; KIPP high schools appear to benefit students new to the KIPP model more than continuing KIPP students3. Some researchers caution that if the KIPP model were implemented more widely, finding enough teachers willing to work its longer hours would be challenging12.

KIPP school spending per pupil appears to be comparable or slightly higher than the spending per pupil in local TPS that serve similar students4.

How could this strategy impact health disparities? This strategy is rated likely to decrease disparities.
Implementation Examples

As of 2018, there are 224 Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) schools in 20 states and Washington, D.C. These schools serve over 96,000 students, most of whom are from low income families13.


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1 Mathematica-Tuttle 2013 - Tuttle CG, Gill B, Gleason P, et al. KIPP middle schools: Impacts on achievement and other outcomes. Washington, D.C.: Mathematica Policy Research (MPR); 2013.

2 Miron 2011 - Miron G, Urschel JL, Saxton N. What makes KIPP work? A study of student characteristics, attrition, and school finance. Kalamazoo: National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, the Study Group on Educational Management Organizations at Western Michigan University; 2011.

3 Mathematica-Tuttle 2015 - Tuttle CC, Gleason P, Knechtel V, et al. Understanding the effect of KIPP as it scales: Volume 1, impacts on achievement and other outcomes. Washington, D.C.: Mathematica Policy Research (MPR), KIPP Foundation; 2015.

4 WWC-KIPP 2018 - What Works Clearinghouse (WWC). WWC intervention report: Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP). Washington, D.C.: Institute of Education Sciences (IES), U.S. Department of Education (U.S. ED); 2018.

5 Rose 2017a - Rose CP, Maranto R, Ritter GW. From the Delta banks to the upper ranks: An evaluation of KIPP charter schools in rural Arkansas. Educational Policy. 2017;31(2):180-201.

6 CRPE-Betts 2011 - Betts J, Tang YE. The effect of charter schools on student achievement: A meta-analysis of the literature. Seattle: Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE); 2011.

7 Gleason 2014 - Gleason PM, Tuttle CC, Gill B, Nichols-Barrer I, Teh B. Do KIPP schools boost student achievement? Education Finance and Policy. 2014;9(1):36–58.

8 Angrist 2012 - Angrist JD, Dynarski SM, Kane TJ, Pathak PA, Walters CR. Who benefits from KIPP? Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. 2012;31(4):837-860.

9 Mathematica-Nichols-Barrer 2016 - Nichols-Barrer I, Gleason P, Gill B, Tuttle CC. Student selection, attrition, and replacement in KIPP middle schools. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. 2016;38(1):5-20.

10 Dobbie 2013 - Dobbie W, Fryer Jr. RG. Getting beneath the veil of effective schools: Evidence from New York City. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. 2013;5(4):28–60.

11 Mathematica-Furgeson 2012 - Furgeson J, Gill B, Haimson J, et al. Charter-school management organizations: Diverse strategies and diverse student impacts. Princeton: Mathematica Research Policy (MPR), Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE); 2012.

12 Yeh 2013 - Yeh SS. A re-analysis of the effects of KIPP and the Harlem promise academies. Teachers College Record. 2013;115(4):1-20.

13 KIPP - Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP).