News & Events
KIPP Impact Receives ‘B’ Grade
Posted on Monday, July 23, 2012
There was much celebrating in Duval County last week as the school district was the only one to add A-rated schools and reduce F-rated schools.
But wait a second. Weren't these grades mostly based on the despised Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test?
And weren't we warned that a more difficult grading system was going to result in a rash of lower-graded schools?
At the same time, Duval County's overall grade declined from a B to a C. The actual letter grade is simply a reflection of the dual school systems in Duval: one for high poverty children with great needs and an outstanding system of neighborhood and magnet schools for the more fortunate.
Actually, for those complaining that one high-stakes test has too much influence in Florida, just wait a few years.
The FCAT is on the way out, to be replaced by end-of-course exams that are designed to have more national credibility with common standards.
The idea that students must pass tests in class is not revolutionary.
The FCAT was just one step on the road to accountability. Flawed, to be sure, but a necessary step.
It is not a diagnostic test. Students need to be assessed in the first week of school and have instructional plans designed to deal with their weaknesses. In the digital era, this should be easier than ever.
There is a role for computerized instruction to help drill students and give them patient feedback. Through it all, teachers need to be guiding instruction. Grade recovery needs to be placed back in the control of teachers, not an excuse for students to slack off.
Duval County, in contrast to its suburban neighbors, has large proportions of low-income and minority students. There are many needs outside the classroom
in such schools. Good success has been earned in elementary schools and occasional success in difficult middle school years. It's more challenging to
maintain excellence in these schools, however. It's more difficult to replace a charismatic principal in such cases.
The KIPP story
One interesting case is the KIPP Impact School at the former dog track in the McDuff neighborhood. The school began with high promise but took valid criticism last year when it received an F grade. It needs to be emphasized that this represented just one fifth grade of 88 students.
Now as the second year finishes, the school includes 160 students in fifth and sixth grades. The school improved its grade to a C and just missed a B grade.
If you visit the school, it is apparent how hard the students are working. But hard work alone wasn't enough.
"We were a lot smarter this year at using data to plug student gaps in learning," said Tom Majdanics, executive director of the KIPP Jacksonville schools.
They tailored instruction and tutoring to the needs of the individual students.This worked especially well with math with students in the bottom quartile. Math learning gains were No. 1 in Duval County and No. 3 in the state. Reading gains were not so dramatic. While 87 percent of KIPP students showed math gains, 63 percent showed reading gains.
The performance justifies the opening of a second KIPP school, which starts next month, KIPP Voice Elementary. A group of about 100 kindergartners will be entering the school. As with the Impact school, these will be mostly students from the Northwest neighborhood chosen by lottery if necessary.
Majdanics ascribes the improvement to the "natural progression" of students and staff knowing each other better. In fact, it's no different than in other high-poverty schools where hard work doesn't show up in test scores overnight.
Sometimes you have to believe your own eyes. Are the students concentrating in class? Are they carrying books home from school?
Long days, hard work
The KIPP day is longer than normal, nine hours a day, with time spent in late afternoon for tutoring, music and PE.
There also are occasional Saturday sessions.
The KIPP Impact school is using music as an important educational tool. Students are learning the value of discipline. Founded in 2010, KIPP Impact will add a seventh grade in the coming school year. In 2013, it will be a full fifth- through eighth-grade middle school. The school is 99 percent African-American and 89 percent free and reduced lunch.
What KIPP is doing is not unheard of in the Duval County public schools. Using Communities in Schools programs, students gain the extra time and attention they need. And there are similarly dedicated principals who through force of will obtain the extra help their students need.
Clearly, this extra time is needed for high-poverty students to catch up and receive the support they need.
All of this time and attention comes at a cost. What would it cost to provide a nine-hour school day for every high-poverty school in Duval County?
That's a discussion this community should be having.
By The Times-Union
State Revises 24 School Grades in Northeast Florida
Posted on Monday, July 23, 2012
School grades for 24 Northeast Florida schools have been bumped up after they were miscalculated by the state, whose exam and evaluation process has faced a bevy of criticism.
Two schools, Eugene Butler Middle School and School of Success Academy charter school, both in Jacksonville, saw their grades improved from Fs to Ds.
Thirteen of the Northeast Florida school improvements went from Bs to As, six were revised from Cs to Bs and three went from Ds to Cs.
Most of the revised grades for First Coast schools were in Duval County, another three schools were in Clay County, while Baker and Nassau counties each had one school’s grade improved.
Duval was second among state districts in the number of schools impacted, with 19 school grades revised. Miami-Dade led the state with 31 revisions. The state revealed the error Friday night.
Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals said Saturday that he had mixed feelings about the grade changes, which he called significant.
“On the one hand, it shows us doing better than we even had before; on the other hand it does make you wonder whether or not they have all the calculations right,” he told the Times-Union. “To their credit, if you see something’s not right, as opposed to hiding it they came forward and they were honest about it.”
Pratt-Dannals said mistakes like this may hurt the state’s credibility, particularly as it looks to use exams more to evaluate teacher performance.
KIPP Impact Middle School, which under-performed in its first year by earning an F in 2011 and then rebounded this year by earning a C, saw its grade revised to a B.
“I am delighted our KIPP Impact students, parents and staff are being recognized with a B grade. They all worked incredibly hard and we are looking forward to building our progress in the coming year,” said Tom Majdanics, executive director for KIPP Jacksonville.
More than 200 schools in 40 of the state’s 67 school districts saw their grades improved because of the error.
Several district grades also were improved, but Duval County, which saw its district grade drop from a B to a C this year, was not one of those districts.
Pratt-Dannals said he will be looking at why the revised grades weren’t good enough to improve the district’s grade.
The state annually hands out the grades that are used to financially reward top schools and sanction those that get failing marks. Student performance on reading, math, science and writing tests primarily determines the grades, as well as whether students showed learning gains over the previous year.
The Florida Department of Education said the error occurred in the way they weighted students’ learning gains, The Associated Press reported Saturday.
The state passed a rule last year saying that students who scored at levels 1 and 2 on last year’s FCAT and got a third more points than was needed to be considered to have made learning gains on the FCAT this year, would receive a weighted learning gains score, the AP reported.
But the state failed to include students who were at levels 1 or 2 last year, but scored at higher levels this year when calculating the weighted points.
The error put another spotlight on the state’s system of evaluating students and comes as the grading system is under some of the sharpest criticism it has endured in the years since former Gov. Jeb Bush first put it into place, the AP noted.
Overall, more than 100 schools in the state jumped from a B to an A grade, the AP reported. Fifty-five school grades changed from a C to a B. Thirty-five school grades changed from a D to a C, and seven school grades changed from an F to a D.
Commissioner of Education Gerard Robinson said he will look for ways to improve the grade calculation process, the AP reported.
“The strength of our accountability system depends on the partnership between school districts and the department, and these revisions are a direct result of that process,” he said in a statement.
Topher Sanders: (904) 359-4169
Dear Friends of KIPP Jacksonville
Posted on Friday, July 13, 2012
I wanted to share with you the below press release that we sent yesterday regarding KIPP Impact’s school grade. After a lot of hard work from our students, parents and teachers, we ended up with a “C” grade – just three measly (and excruciating) school grade points away from a “B.” So we’ll call it a C+.
I’m pleased to share that KIPP Impact is now the highest rated middle school in Northwest Jacksonville and the highest rated among the 18 Duval County middle and K-8 schools that serve 70% or more students who are eligible for the free and reduced price lunch program. Of course, we still have a lot of hard work ahead as we continue to adjust and refine our model. Our young school (and our young KIPP Jacksonville institution) still has plenty of room for growth and improvement.
Lastly, while it never will show up on a school grade report, I wanted to share with you two links to our young musicians in action. The first link is KIPP’s first attempt at a musical note in the fall of 2010 (our baseline). The second link is from our students’ musical assessment this past spring, where they played before judges for the first time.
I hope viewing these put a smile on your face. The sky is the limit for our students.
Executive Director, KIPP Jacksonville Schools
KIPP Impact Middle School Shows Large FCAT Gains in its Second Year
Posted on Friday, July 13, 2012
JACKSONVILLE, FL – JULY 11, 2012 – In a year when school grades went down for many Florida public schools, KIPP Impact Middle School increased its school grade in the 2011-2012 school year. KIPP Impact received a “C” for the 2011-12 year and narrowly missed a “B” by three school grade points The new scores make KIPP Impact the highest rated middle school in Northwest Jacksonville and the highest rated among the 18 Duval County middle and K-8 schools that serve 70% or more students who are eligible for the free and reduced price lunch program.
KIPP saw increased passing rates in both math and reading this year, especially among its 6th grade students who have had the benefit of two full years at KIPP. 69 percent of its sixth graders passed the FCAT math exam this year, up from 31 percent in 2011. In reading, sixth grade FCAT passing rates increased by 17 percent, from 23 percent in 2011 to 40 percent in 2012. (See chart below.)
KIPP Jacksonville—Sixth grade students passing FCAT
“Our sixth grade students, having spent two years at KIPP, have begun to blossom academically,” said Tom Majdanics, Executive Director of KIPP Jacksonville Schools. “While our KIPP students are making great strides, there is still plenty of room for growth. We will not be satisfied until our students earn acceptances to college prep high schools in 8th grade.”
Founded in 2010, KIPP Impact currently students in grades five and six, and will add a seventh grade in the summer of 2012. It will become a full 5th through 8th grade middle school in 2013. KIPP Impact students attend school for nine hours daily, giving them time to devote to math and reading and participate daily in an instrumental music program where students learn important skills like discipline, teamwork, and grit.
With a student body that is 99 percent African-American and 89 percent qualifying for free or reduced price lunches, KIPP Impact improved its achievement results this year by focusing on giving its students individualized attention and providing students with extra tutoring during the school day and on weekends. Eighty-seven percent of KIPP Impact students showed learning gains in math this year, ranking it 2nd of the 27 middle schools in Duval County and 11th among 584 middle schools statewide. Sixty-three percent of KIPP students showed learning gains in reading.
“These results are a tribute to the hard work and dedication of KIPP Jacksonville’s students, teachers and community,” said John Baker, chair of the KIPP Jacksonville Schools board of directors. “We are on the right track and will continue to work hard to build on this year’s progress to show what’s possible for public education in Jacksonville.”
Starting this fall, KIPP Impact will enroll approximately 270 students in fifth through seventh grade. A second KIPP school, KIPP VOICE Elementary, will be opening its doors to its inaugural class of kindergarteners this August.
About KIPP Jacksonville Schools
KIPP Jacksonville Schools are part of the national network of KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) schools. The mission of KIPP Jacksonville Schools is to prepare its students with the academic and character skills necessary to succeed in high school, college and the competitive world beyond. Through the success of its students, KIPP Jacksonville aims to serve as a model of excellence and to collaborate with others to raise the quality of education in Jacksonville and the state of Florida.
Tom Majdanics, Executive Director