Today, I was thinking deeply about the promises I have made. Sacred promises. To each and every child who walks through our doors every morning, I promise to do whatever it takes to equip him/her with the academic skills and qualities of character to be successful to and through college and in the competitive world beyond. I promise to love them and help them grow. I promise to integrate social justice into our teaching and learning. I promise to support our KIPPsters, our communities and our families inside and outside of our walls as they strive for freedom. To me, these promises have never mattered more.
We have so many successes to celebrate this year - so many wins with our KIPPsters in our classrooms, at our schools, and across our region. Here are just a few:
1. We successfully opened 2 new schools! KIPP Climb Academy and KIPP Prime College Preparatory opened with a bang (and tremendous support from the Ops team!) in Southeast Houston this year. At KIPP Climb, on the spring MAP, 77% of our Kindergarteners met their tiered growth goal in math and 51% are tracking toward college-ready! In ELA, 64% of KIPPsters met their tiered growth goals and 59% are tracking toward college-ready! KIPP Prime saw 59% of 5th graders meet MAP goals in Reading, even though most of their KIPPsters were new to KIPP this year! Great start, KIPP Climb and Prime! It sure was “Prime Time.”
2. Our graduates are off to college! Yesterday, KIPP Northeast College Preparatory joined our three other high schools by graduating its founding class. We are happy to share all the amazing work our Class of 2017 has done this year in their climb to and through. Our KIPP college counseling teams helped our 478 seniors from KIPP Houston, KIPP Sunnyside, KIPP Generations, and KIPP Northeast high schools submit 6,106 applications to 574 unique colleges. 85% of our seniors were accepted to 3 or more colleges and 45% of our seniors were accepted to 6 or more colleges! Collectively, our KIPPsters earned more than $8 million in scholarships and financial aid.
3. We are increasing academic alignment! Our School Leaders are focused on instruction now more than ever. 92% of our School Leaders report spending at least 75% of their time on academic leadership and talent development, helping our teachers become smarter and stronger. While we are still getting our academic results in, with our region-wide focus on instruction and Eureka (our PK-8 math curriculum), our early math results look particularly promising.
4. We piloted KIPP Wheatley, which will expand region-wide next year! Seven schools piloted Wheatley (ELA curriculum). KIPPsters are engaged in more focused close reading and critical thinking, and continuously wrote responses on a higher rigor level. Our teachers engaged in DDI, lesson internalization, and coaching cycles through content teams and O3s. All KIPP Houston schools piloting Wheatley consistently scored above the national KIPP average – with several schools scoring first or second in the country on every assessment, including KIPP Academy West’s 5th grade. We can’t wait to see how our results improve next year as this innovation expands region-wide!
5. 20% at 23 on the ACT! With more of our high school KIPPsters taking the ACT than ever before, 20% earned ACT scores that qualify them for Texas’s most competitive college programs. While we just missed our goal of 22% of our seniors earning an ACT score of a 23 or above, we know that with our new ACT Interim Assessments given six times each year (including the pre and post-tests), our high school KIPPsters will have more at-bats and more opportunities to increase their scores on the ACT than ever before.
6. Our focus on Algebra is driving better outcomes for our students! We know that success in Algebra I is a gatekeeper to students taking advanced math courses in high school. Our intentional focus on Algebra drove results. With ~30% more students testing in Algebra this year, we saw a 7 point increase in “Met” and a 9 point increase in “Mastery.” KSHS had a 15 percentage point increase in passing rates from the previous year. We are also using blended learning tools across our region to increase KIPPsters’ small group and 1:1 time with their teachers. We are the proud recipient of a blended learning grant from Raise Your Hand Texas, one of only 5 districts awarded $500,000 over three years to boost Algebra I scores in 6 schools. In our pilot year at KIPP Liberation, 98% of students passed – more than last year – and 90% of Liberation’s Algebra I students met the EOC standard, the second-highest rate in the region. Next year, we are so excited to expand to Algebra I classrooms at KIPP Spirit, KIPP Polaris Academy for Boys , KIPP Voyage Academy for Girls , and KIPP Northeast College Preparatory, and to other math classrooms at Liberation!
7. More of our Middle Schoolers are tracking toward college-ready! More than 60% of the 6th graders at KIPP Academy are in the 75th percentile in math. At KIPP Liberation and KIPP Voyage Academy for Girls, more than 50% of 8th graders are in the 75th percentile on MAP Math. And, at KIPP Liberation, more than 50% of 8th graders are there in reading as well. And, three middle schools – KIPP Spirit, KIPP Sharpstown, and KIPP Polaris Academy for Boys -- made double digit gains in 8th grade math achievement.
8. We’re re-designing Middle School! Speaking of middle school, KIPP was one of the first 10 districts nationwide to win a grant to partner with Transcend to redesign the middle school experience for our students. Andrew Rubin and the team at KIPP Academy are redesigning a new KIPP Academy experience, which will launch in August when KIPPsters return. Students will be focused on completing rigorous tasks for cross-curricular units, expanding their problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The math team will also pilot a new way of teaching Eureka that involves 90-minute flexible groupings of students based on their understanding of that unit. We’re excited to nourish this pilot as a greenhouse for other middle schools to pull key learnings in the future!
9. KIPP SHINE nominated for National Blue Ribbon honors! KIPP SHINE was one of 26 Texas schools nominated for the 2017 national Blue Ribbon honor, an award that recognizes schools for their academic excellence.
10. We piloted Teacher Pathways!! The Pathways program creates avenues for teachers to grow in our profession through reflection, targeted development, and compensation tied to performance. This year, we piloted two components of Pathways – teacher observations and student feedback. Next year, we will fully pilot Pathways so that teachers can be placed on the pathway in 2018-19.
11. We’ve got more and more Graduate Teaching Fellows! Three years ago, we launched our Graduate Teaching Fellowship, through which new teachers spend a year apprenticing in the classroom with one of our master teachers before becoming a lead teacher the following year. They earn their teaching credential and Master’s degree through the Relay Graduate School of Education. We grew the program from 47 fellows to 83 fellows this year and expanding to 100 fellows next year!
12. We spent the night at the Zoo! Many thanks to the Advancement Team for orchestrating out first-ever KIPP Night at the Zoo where 7,000 KIPPsters and their families sipped hot chocolate, listened to our KIPPsters sing, and saw the amazing Zoo Lights. We can’t wait to do this again next year!
13. We are on our way to serving 18,000 KIPPsters! In August, our own Lisa McClinton will open the doors of KIPP Nexus Primary School and KIPP Nexus Middle School to approximately 230 Little KIPPsters on our new campus in northwest Houston. These schools will be sister schools to KIPP Dream Prep, KIPP 3D Academy, and KIPP Generations Collegiate on the North campus. Huge congratulations to Lisa for creating a path for more KIPPsters to climb the mountain!
14. Wow! There is so much to celebrate this year, thanks to your incredible hard work.
Thank you ALL for caring so deeply about our KIPPsters and for doing whatever it takes to help them achieve their dreams. This summer, I hope you take lots of time to rest and renew. We have big goals for the 2017-2018 school year I can’t wait to kick-off next year with you in August, as we unveil our refreshed mission statement. Until then, let’s make this very last day of school magical!
Sehba Ali, Superintendent
KIPP Houston Public Schools