By Andrew Vanacore | November 28, 2011
Read the full article at NOLA.com >
Tulane University and one of the country's most prominent public charter school operators plan to sign a new agreement Tuesday with the dual aim of boosting college graduation rates among at-risk students and producing more qualified teachers. The university, which has just one KIPP graduate enrolled this fall, has agreed to set aside 10 slots each year for students from KIPP charter schools nationwide, including the 2,500 or so students who attend KIPP schools in New Orleans.
The group put out results from an internal study earlier this year showing that about a third of the students who graduated from a KIPP middle school at least 10 years ago have earned a bachelor's degree. Of those, about 95 percent are black or Latino, and 85 percent qualified for the federal government's free or reduced-price lunch program.
That's better than the national average for students from similar backgrounds, which stands at about 8 percent. But KIPP's goal is 75 percent, comparable to the college graduation rate among high-income students.
One part of KIPP's strategy is simply keeping its students longer. The group began in the mid-1990s with just middle schools, but is expanding to all grades. In New Orleans it has already opened four elementary schools, four middle schools and a high school. Ultimately, it plans to add another elementary, middle and high school, housing 5,300 students citywide.
Overall, KIPP has 109 schools in 20 different states and Washington D.C. with about 32,000 students.
The partnership with Tulane, which it hopes to duplicate with other colleges and universities, will essentially extend KIPP's reach into higher education, at least in a supporting role.
"The ultimate goal for our kids is not to have them pass a state accountability test," said Mike Feinberg, one of KIPP's co-founders. "Nor is it getting them in or even through college. It's that they have the freedom to do what it is in this world that they want to do. College is a ticket to be able to do those things."