KIPP Charter Schools

Updated: Oct 11, 2023
Evidence Rating:
Top Tier


  • Program:

    A nonprofit network of 280 college-preparatory, public charter schools that serve a predominantly low-income, minority population of students from pre-K through high school.

  • Evaluation Methods:

    Three well-conducted randomized controlled trials—RCTs—that evaluated the effectiveness of KIPP elementary and middle schools as implemented on a sizable scale. The schools in the study were located across multiple U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

  • Key Findings:

    KIPP elementary and middle schools produced sizable, statistically significant effects on reading and math achievement – increases of between 5 and 10 percentile points (compared to the control group) – as measured two to three years after random assignment. One of the middle school RCTs estimated KIPP’s long-term effects, and found suggestive (not statistically significant) evidence of a 4 percentage point increase in four-year college enrollment, but no discernible effect on four-year college persistence (i.e., enrollment through six consecutive semesters).

  • Other:

    This evidence of effectiveness applies to KIPP pre-K/elementary schools and middle schools (KIPP high schools have not yet been evaluated in an RCT). A limitation of the findings is that they apply to the subset of KIPP schools that are oversubscribed, and may not necessarily generalize to other KIPP schools that are not oversubscribed.

[Disclosure: Arnold Ventures and members of its board have provided funding support for KIPP schools, and Arnold Ventures funded study 3 below.]

The Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) is a non-profit network of college-preparatory, public charter schools, educating nearly 120,000 students across 280 early childhood, elementary, middle, and high schools throughout the United States in the 2022-2023 school year. KIPP schools serve predominantly low-income and minority students – 88% of KIPP students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and 95% are African American or Latino.[1] KIPP’s goal is to help students develop the knowledge, skills, and character strengths they need to succeed throughout their education and in the competitive world beyond. KIPP’s approach is based on the following five principles:

  • High expectations: A culture of support and achievement and personalized learning based on a student’s needs, skills, and interests.
  • Focus on character: A belief that KIPP students need both a strong academic foundation and well-developed character strengths to succeed in college and the world beyond.
  • Highly effective teachers & leaders: An emphasis on empowering educators to lead school teams and investment in training to help them grow as professionals.
  • Safe, structured, & nurturing environments: Schools that are safe, structured, and nurturing environments so that KIPP students thrive and maximize their learning.
  • KIPP through college: Counselors that support students as they prepare for college and career, and navigate social, academic, and financial challenges while in college.

Estimates of the program’s cost per student per year range from $12,000 to $18,500, compared to about $12,000 for a traditional public school, as described here.[2] (These are rough estimates for the 2007-8 school year, unadjusted for inflation.)

KIPP’s website is linked here.

To see our full evidence summary:
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[1] KIPP: Who Are Our Students? linked here (accessed September 14, 2023).

[2] As described in the link, an analysis by Western Michigan University Researchers for the 2007-8 school year found that KIPP schools cost about $18,500 per student per year, part of which was funded by government and part by private donors. The KIPP organization disputed this number and estimated KIPP’s cost at around $12,000 per student per year. In our recent email communication with the KIPP organization, they estimated the 2016 cost of KIPP to be $12,665 per student per year.


Studies 1 and 2:

Tuttle, Christina C., Kevin Booker, Philip Gleason, Gregory Chojnacki, Virginia Knechtel, Thomas Coen, Ira Nichols-Barrer, and Lisbeth Goble (2015). Understanding the Effect of KIPP as it Scales: Volume I, Impacts on Achievement and Other Outcomes, Final Report of KIPP’s Investing in Innovation Grant Evaluation. Mathematica Policy Research.


Study 2:

Knechtel, Virginia, Thomas Coen, Pia Caronongan, Nickie Fung, and Lisbeth Goble (2017). Pre-Kindergarten impacts over time: an analysis of KIPP Charter Schools. Mathematica Policy Research.


Study 3:

Demers, Alicia, Ira Nichols-Barrer, Elisa Steele, Maria Bartlett, and Philip Gleason (2023). Long-Term Impacts of KIPP Middle and High Schools on College Enrollment, Persistence, and Attainment. Mathematica Policy Research.

Tuttle, Christina C., Brian Gill, Philip Gleason, Virginia Knechtel, Ira Nichols-Barrer, and Alexandra Resch (2013). KIPP Middle Schools: Impacts on Achievement and Other Outcomes. Mathematica Policy Research.


Other KIPP Studies:

Angrist, Joshua D., Susan M. Dynarski, Thomas J. Kane, Parag A. Pathak, and Christopher R. Walters (2010). “Who Benefits from KIPP?” National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper 15740.


Other References:

Orr, Larry L. (1999). Social Experimentation: Evaluating Public Programs with Experimental Methods, Sage Publications, Inc., pp. 62-64.

Bloom, Howard S. (1984). “Accounting for No-Shows in Experimental Evaluation Designs,” Evaluation Review, vol. 8, pp. 225-246.