President Obama will soon release his federal budget for 2014, and a top priority is likely to be early-childhood education, particularly for the poor. But will the proposal seek much funding for the growth of charter schools–at least more than the paltry 0.4% of federal education spending that currently supports these exciting and demonstrably successful schools?
Last month, the respected private firm Mathematica Policy Research published a multiyear study (PDF) of students enrolled in KIPP (the Knowledge Is Power Program), a network of 125 charter schools serving 41,000 students in 20 states and the District of Columbia. The study found that after three years students in the KIPP program were 11 months ahead of their traditional-public-school peers in math and eight months ahead in reading. Also after three years (or four for some children in the study), KIPP students were 14 months ahead in science and 11 months ahead in social studies.
These gains are substantial. For every three (or four) years they spend in the program, KIPP students are benefiting from almost a full year of greater learning growth than they would if they remained in traditional public schools.