This week, our youngest KIPPsters in Houston crossed the doors to KIPP pre-K. We know this first step into their education is the beginning of a lifelong learning journey. And now, thanks to a new report released on August 22 by Mathematica Policy Research (the “gold standard” in research firms) we have strong evidence that these little KIPPsters are gaining skills in reading and math that will help them succeed in school over the years to come.
Using data from KIPP SHARP and KIPP SHINE (and KIPP LEAP in Washington, DC.), researchers concluded that KIPP Pre-K combined with KIPP early elementary school leads to significant positive impacts on students’ reading and math achievement. Mathematica also found that the gains made by students who attend KIPP pre-K programs persist into second grade, especially in reading.
Below are some of the Mathematica study’s key findings:
KIPP Pre-K has a significant positive impact on student achievement: After five years, students who won an offer of admission to a KIPP pre-K program through a random lottery had higher reading and achievement than pre-K students who did not win an offer. For example, the study showed that scores on the Letter-Word Identification (reading skills) assessment improved by nearly 14 percentage points, moving KIPP pre-K students from the 66th to the 80th percentile. On the Applied Problems (math skills) assessment, KIPP pre-K students moved from roughly the 47th to the 60th percentile.
KIPP early childhood programs may help students gain executive functioning skills: KIPP Pre-K combined with KIPP early elementary school may also positively affect students’ executive function, including their working memory and ability to follow instructions, although most findings were not significant. Executive function skills are widely believed to be related to students’ long-term academic success.
KIPP Pre-K appears to offer an additional benefit above and beyond the impact of the KIPP elementary grades: The reading impacts of KIPP elementary schools that offered pre-K were larger than those of KIPP elementary schools that did not offer pre-K, although the differences were not statistically significant.
The impact of KIPP Pre-K on reading skills persists into second grade: Students who won an offer of admission to KIPP Pre-K appear to maintain an advantage in reading skills over their second-grade peers who did not win an offer. The size of their advantage in reading comprehension appears to decrease, but not disappear, over time. Although some studies show that the positive impacts of some Pre-K and other early childhood programs eventually decrease or disappear, this study suggests that the combination of KIPP Pre-K and KIPP early elementary school may have more lasting impacts.
We are gratified that Mathematica researchers highlighted some of KIPP Houston’s key program elements, including student and family engagement and an academic focus, as possible reasons for the strong impact on student learning. This finding is aligned with our focus on empowered teachers, commitment to building relationships with families, and focus on teaching academics through play.
When we opened KIPP SHINE back in 2004, it was the first KIPP pre-K in the country. Since then, we’ve been excited to add many more pre-K programs to the KIPP Houston family in response to parent demand and our conviction that it's never too early to start our KIPPsters learning. You can read more about the study here, as well as Mathematica's 2015 report about the positive impact of KIPP elementary school programs.