KIPP is good for students — and for Baltimore

In 2002, KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) responded to a request from Baltimore City Schools to open a middle school. KIPP Ujima Village Academy opened in Baltimore when our middle schools were nothing short of dismal options for kids. In 2003, only 11.5 percent of Baltimore's middle school students passed the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) in math, and 33 percent passed the reading test.

In the ensuing years, we have seen progress across the board throughout city schools. Today, KIPP is part of an expanding portfolio of Baltimore schools created with the approval of the Baltimore Board of School Commissioners and the guidance of Dr. Andres Alonso's leadership team. KIPP has been an inspiring success, providing a high quality, rigorous education to students and exceeding expectations for achievement. KIPP has been a leader among Baltimore middle schools for years and is now a leader in Maryland. In 2010, KIPP's middle school students out-performed the state average on the Maryland State Assessment in reading and math. Further, for the last five years, KIPP's African American 8th grade students outperformed Maryland white students in math. In 2010, KIPP's African American 8th graders did better on the reading assessment than Maryland white students. KIPP has closed the achievement gap.

Parents care about how their middle school students do on the statewide tests, but most care much more about where their eighth grader will go to high school. KIPP sends its 8th graders to the city's best public and private high schools, helping many of them secure scholarships. More numbers that matter are these: 86 percent of KIPP Ujima's first graduating class graduated high school in four years, and of those students, 100 percent earned admission to college. Through its commitment to its students, KIPP Ujima has helped them gain knowledge, and that knowledge gives them the power to achieve much brighter futures.

One of the most exciting things to know about KIPP is that its origins are with teachers — the heart of all good education. Three Houston teachers are responsible for creating the KIPP model of high expectations and commitment to success for all children. Two young teachers looking for guidance tapped the experience of an inspiring master teacher. Together, they miraculously figured out how to home in on the components of a model that works. Today it works in nearly 100 KIPP schools across the U.S.

KIPP stands out because of the achievements of its students. We urge the school board, Mr. Alonso, the Baltimore Teachers Union and KIPP's leaders to do whatever it takes to keep the KIPP opportunity available to Baltimore students for years to come. Our education leaders have an opportunity to serve the current and future students at KIPP by securing an agreement that enables KIPP Ujima Village Academy to continue its good work.

Timothy Armbruster, Goldseker Foundation

Robert C. Embry Jr., Abell Foundation

Mari Beth Moulton, Wright Family Foundation

John B. Powell, Lockhart Vaughan Foundation

Jan Rivitz, Aaron Straus and Lille Straus Foundation

Terry M. Rubenstein, Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds

Donn Weinberg, Weinberg Foundation

Tom Wilcox, Baltimore Community Foundation

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