High KIPP attrition must be part of San Francisco discussion

The KIPP charter school chain, which operates two charter middle schools here in San Francisco, is applying to open a high school. This is a local issue, but relates to similar situations that are widely discussed in other parts of the country.

I’m posting figures on attrition from the existing KIPP middle schools. The number indicates students who left and were not replaced. A 2008 study of the (then-existing) Bay Area KIPP schools by SRI International showed a 60% attrition rate (students who left and were not replaced), and added the information that the students who left were overwhelmingly the lower achievers.

I’m also posting figures from two randomly chosen SFUSD middle schools for comparison. In discussions of the attrition issue, it’s often asked whether the same phenomenon occurs at comparable non-charter public middle schools.

These figures, from the California Department of Education website, are from the 10-day count (10 days into the school year), so they show how many students remained in the BEGINNING of 8th grade, not how many completed 8th grade. The SRI study mentioned above used information on how many students competed 8th grade, which is not publicly available.

KIPP Bayview:

8th grade, 2011-12 school year:
The cohort dropped from 86 6th-graders in 2009-10 to 58 8th-graders in 2011-12, a loss of 32.56% of the students.

8th grade, 2010-11 school year:
The cohort dropped from 84 6th-graders in 2008-09 to 46 8th-graders in 2010-11, a loss of 45.24% of the students.

KIPP San Francisco Bay:

8th grade, 2011-12 school year: The cohort dropped from 94 6th-graders in 2009-10 to 74 8th-graders in 2011-12,
a loss of 21.28% of the students.

8th grade, 2010-11 school year:
The cohort dropped from 87 6th-graders in 2008-09 to 61 8th-graders in 2010-11, a loss of 29.89% of the students.

Comparisons:

James Denman Middle School:

8th grade, 2011-12 school year:
The cohort increased from 175 6th-graders in 2009-10 to 197 8th-graders in 2011-12.

8th grade, 2010-11 school year:
The cohort increased from 176 6th-graders in 2008-09 to 197 8th-graders in 2010-11.

Martin Luther King Middle School:

8th grade, 2011-12 school year:
The cohort dropped from 188 6th-graders in 2009-10 to 174 8th-graders in 2011-12, a loss of 7.45% of the students.

8th grade, 2010-11 school year:
The cohort increased from 156 6th-graders in 2008-09 to 173 8th-graders in 2010-11.

Further point: The KIPP middle schools are grades 5-8, but the 6th grades experience an enrollment surge because the feeder schools are K-5, so I used grade 6 as the base.

Here’s a link leading to the SRI study, and the language from page ix of the study regarding attrition:

Student attrition rates are high, and those who leave Bay Area KIPP schools start out lower performing and benefit less from their time at the schools than those who stay.

Student enrollment in the Bay Area KIPP schools declines after the sixth grade; of the students who entered fifth grade at the four Bay Area KIPP schools operating in 2003-04, 60 percent left before the end of eighth grade. At least two of KIPP’s host districts also experienced substantial student attrition over the same period –22 percent and 50 percent, respectively. [Note from Caroline: However, this doesn’t apply to San Francisco Unified School District schools from grades 6-8, and did not apply in the years covered by the SRI study.] On average, those who leave KIPP before completing eighth grade have lower test scores on entering KIPP and demonstrate smaller fifth-grade effects than those who stay.

We could not estimate longitudinal impacts because of student attrition and in-grade retention. Because of both the number of students who left and the fact that those who left are systematically different from those who stayed, longitudinal comparisons would be biased.

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One Response to High KIPP attrition must be part of San Francisco discussion

  1. Pingback: Beware the Charter Attrition Game | Diane Ravitch's blog