KIPP Schools Have Very High Teacher Turnover

KIPP TurnoverI see that KIPP is out with its annual report card about…itself. (It’s an easy idea to mock, and I wouldn’t take their self-analysis as gospel, but good for them for making the effort.)

I haven’t read it all the way through, but something that jumped out at me immediately was the chart you see on the right (from pg. 22), since charter school teacher turnover is a topic people love to argue about.

In other words, 32% – about 1/3 – of KIPP teachers left their teaching position last year. How does that compare to nationwide trends?

Nationwide, the proportion of teachers leaving their position from year to year is about 16%. (That number is from 2009; I didn’t see anything more recent.)

KIPP teachers apparently leave at about twice the rate of teachers elsewhere.

I actually like a lot about the KIPP model and I don’t think this is a knock-down argument against what they do. It’s clear, however, that even by its own measures KIPP has a teacher turnover problem.

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One Comment

  1. Jack
    Posted August 11, 2013 at 4:42 PM | Permalink

    You’re missing some nuances here. KIPP uses a rhetorical, statistical sleight-of-hand in all their “annual report cards.” That 2/3rds statistic of “teachers who who returned / will be returning” only encompasses those who finished the school year… i.e. the ones who were in the classroom ON THE FINAL DAY OF THAT SCHOOL YEAR.

    As such, this doesn’t take into account:

    CATEGORY 1) those who bailed out DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR; and

    CATEGORY 2) the fact that many of those “teachers who who returned / will be returning” are replacements of CATEGORY 1 teachers, or more precisely, they could be “replacements of replacements of replacements… ” or just the latest in a line of teachers filling in, and, due to their short time at KIPP are not fully informed about how terrible the working conditions are; combine that with a desperation to stay employed during a recession, and they commit to teaching next year, and swell the number / percentage of “returning teachers.”

    A more accurate and insightful statistic would be those teachers who started on DAY ONE of the school year, taught that entire year, and then committed to teach the following year. That is a statistic which KIPP certainly has, but refuses to provide in their “annual report card”.

    I wonder why?

    They do the same thing with student attrition. They say that only 80% of their students return from one year to the next—actually not such a great stat, but we’ll get to that later. Like the “returning teacher” stat, this doesn’t take into account the students that were kicked out… errr… excuse me… “counseled out” DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR. Unlike the public schools, KIPP doesn’t accept transfer students, so those students are not replaced.

    Getting back to the 80% statistic student retention: Let’s say you start with 100 students—a nice round number—in 5th Grade. Losing 20% means you will only have 80 students beginning 6th Grade (again, this is a generous figure, as it doesn’t take into account those who leave DURING THE %th GRADE YEAR).

    You repeat this only 20% attrition process going from 6th to 7th, and now you have 64 students starting 7th grade. Repeat again, and you now have 51 students starting 8th grade. If you factor in those students who leave DURING THE 6th, 7th & 8th GRADE YEARS, you will get way below 50% of students who start DAY ONE of 5th Grade and finish all the way to the 8th Grade graduation.

    If you break out the statistic of just African-American males who start in 5th or 6th Grade, you will see retention at 20% or BELOW for those who finish all the way to 8th Grade graduation. Put simply, KIPP is a failure when it comes to the African-American male student demographic.

    Caroline Grannan has done the work that journalists have failed to do. She actually accessed the California Department of Education data on students enrolled at KIPP from year-to-year—including data on gender and ethnicity—and exposed all of this.

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