At the rate students are learning at the Ewing Marion Kauffman School, most every child taught there will likely be performing at grade level or better by high school, a new study says.
The study was commissioned by the Kauffman Foundation five yearts ago to determine whether the charter school’s methods are working to bring students who start way behind grade level up to par. The report was recently made public.
Researchers at Mathematica reviewed state and federal data for the first three years the Kauffman charter public school was in operation. The school, named Charter School of the Year in 2015 by the Missouri Charter Public School Association, opened in the fall of 2011 to serve low-income families in Kansas City.
Students enter the Kauffman School in fifth grade. Currently the school, at 6401 Paseo, goes to ninth grade with about 200 students at each grade level and 20 to 25 students in each classroom. Eventually the school will grow to include grades five through 12.
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Researchers compared academic growth of Kauffman students after three years in the school with the growth shown by a sample of similar children in Kansas City public schools. Kauffman students achieved approximately 1.35 more years of learning growth in math and 1.29 years more of learning growth in reading, said Mathematica’s Matt Johnson, one of the study’s authors.
“The Kauffman School is having a substantial positive impact on student achievement,” Johnson said. “The average student at the Kauffman School entered substantially below the state average in terms of math and reading scores, and performed above the state average after three years at the school.”
Claudia Gentile, director of the Kauffman evaluation project, noted that many students “come in three and four years behind grade level. We are talking about students who have never made a full year’s growth.”
Gentile attributes the positive results to Kauffman’s methods, including longer school days, two classes of math and two classes of language arts every day for each student, and teachers participating in a half day of professional development every week.
Plus, Gentile said the Kauffman School has “high behavioral expectations and a no excuses approach to what students can achieve, no matter what the socioeconomic background.”