From New York to California, KIPP Students start the day early and upbeat.
In Harlem, by 7:35 in the morning, the first “daily” test is already underway.
The Knowledge is Power Program, KIPP for short, serves 20,000 K through 12th grade students in 82 public charter schools in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
It’s an open-lottery program, turning students from low-income communities into high achievers.
“That’s my future. In 2005 I’m going to college,” said a grade school student.
The numbers are impressive. Eighty-five percent of KIPP students who finish 8th grade also make it to college, compared to 20 percent of low-income students nationwide.
Part of KIPP’S success comes from teaching in a kid-friendly way. One of the tools, chanting, used to help students memorize tough lessons just as they memorize the lyrics to hip-hop songs.
School days are 10-hours long, with some Saturday sessions, and summer classes.
It’s helped students like 13-year old Keith Dozier; held back a grade in his old school. Now he’s on track.
“You just got to work hard. It takes no excuses. You just got to complete all of your homework and make sure that you can get it done so that you can be successful later on in life,” said Keith.
Critical to the formula: dedicated teachers and leaders.
“We kept after him after school. We would call his mom, we would e-mail his mom and this was consistent,” said his teacher.
In 1994 it was the hard work of two young teachers that created the program as a way to engage their 5th grade inner-city class.
“It’s all about sending a message …character and academic skills for college and for life,” said one of these teachers.
It’s also about earning rewards, like field trips to other states and colleges.
“I want to go to Harvard and I want to become a forensic scientist,” said a KIPP student.
KIPP schools: one model for opening new doors to learning, and success.