Two days ago we invited you to pose questions in response to Bill Weir's piece on the Knowledge Is Power Program. We sent your questions to the leaders of the program and KIPP public affairs director Steve Mancini's answers are below.
Question: Hi, I'd be interested in knowing what the average teacher:student ratio is in KIPP schools and what the average percentage of special ed kids is in KIPP schools? Thanks, Bill Gammon
Steve Mancini: The average student-to-teacher ratio at KIPP is 16 to 1. Class size at KIPP depends on the subject being taught and can vary amongst different KIPP schools. The actual class sizes at KIPP schools can reach 30 students in some instances. Regardless of the class size, KIPP is committed to hiring teachers who will do whatever it takes to ensure that students will learn.
All KIPP schools are open-enrollment public schools. We do not pre-screen students at KIPP. The percentage of special education students at KIPP schools ranges from no students at some schools to more than 20 percent at others. At KIPP Academy Lynn outside of Boston, 22 percent of the young people are special education students. KIPP Lynn students appeared in the Oct. 15 ABC "World News" piece participating in an outward bound field trip activity in Wiscasset, Maine.
Question: My son is currently in his third year at KIPP Tech Valley in Albany, N.Y. I was wondering if there were any plans to build a high school somewhere in the Northeast?
Steve Mancini: In its third year, KIPP Tech Valley currently serves students in fifth- through seventh-grades, and will add an eighth-grade in 2008. KIPP Tech Valley consistently has some of the highest student achievement of any public middle school serving predominantly low-income students in Albany.
As more KIPP middle schools have reached maturity and sent eighth-grade students on to high school, we have recognized a need to increase the supply of rigorous public high schools in many of our communities. To that end, KIPP has begun creating college-preparatory high schools as extensions of our existing middle schools.
Through the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, KIPP has opened public high schools in the following locations: Gaston, N.C.; Helena, Ark.; Houston; Newark, N.J.; and San Lorenzo, Calif.
The decision to open a new KIPP high school is up to the local KIPP Tech Valley board of directors. We suggest that you communicate directly with Dan Ceaser — your KIPP school leader in Albany — to inquire about a high school.
Question: I just saw the report on KIPP schools tonight and I am VERY intrigued. I too am a teacher, but more importantly, I am a parent to five beautiful children. I feel like our public school system is failing my children, especially at the secondary level. What is the process of bringing such a school to our area or is there one in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area?
Steve Mancini: We are pleased to learn about your interest in bringing KIPP to Detroit.
Each year, KIPP uses an application process in order to select new communities for future KIPP school expansion. We select new sites nearly two years in advance due to the requirement that all KIPP schools are led by outstanding educators who apply to and are selected for our yearlong principal training program.