Buried in Ed Week’s Usually Reliable Robelen’s explosive article on attrition from KIPP schools is this nugget:
The KIPP analysis, which relied on exit interviews with families conducted by school staff, suggests that about half the departing students moved out of the area, while the other half chose to leave for reasons mainly tied to the KIPP approach. Only two students at one school, KIPP says, were explicitly told to leave.
For the students who did not move, the most common reason cited for leaving was to avoid repeating a grade. KIPP schools are aggressive about promoting students only if they demonstrate the knowledge and skills needed to advance. Other common reasons cited were the extended school day and the strict discipline code.
This is a big issue for two reasons. First, mobility is an issue here and not every “leaver” has any sort of sinister story behind them. More importantly, it again shows the tension between academic standards and open-enrollment schools in today’s urban context. Until there are more common signals across school districts, many kids will exit challenging programs for less challenging ones because there are multiple pathways today that require varying degrees of effort. Convincing kids and parents to stay, repeat grades, etc…is hard when there are a host of options around them that don’t require that. Incidentally, suburban kids often do the same thing, the stakes just aren’t as high for them.