September 30, 2019

KIPP Middle Schools Boost College Enrollment


Mathematica recently released a study showing the impact of attending KIPP middle school could erase the racial achievement gap in four-year college enrollment rates nationwide. Mathematica’s study “Long-Term Impacts of KIPP Middle Schools on College Enrollment and Early College Persistence,” found “attending KIPP following a middle school lottery produced an increase of 12.9 percentage points in enrollment rates in four-year college programs.” The study states “the impact of attending a KIPP school would be almost large enough to erase the nationwide racial disparity in college enrollment rates.” The national gap in college enrollment rates in 2017 between white students and black or Hispanic students for any college type was approximately 14 percentage points.

“The results of the Mathematica study are really promising,” said Richard Barth, chief executive officer of the KIPP Foundation. “We made a commitment 25 years ago to help students climb the mountain to and through college, and these numbers show that we are moving closer to delivering on that promise on a national scale.”

KIPP schools predominantly serve low-income students of color, with the goal of closing achievement gaps and preparing students to succeed in college.

This is the first independent study that shows that attending KIPP has a long-lasting impact on student four-year college enrollment. The study followed 1,177 students who applied to enter one of 13 KIPP middle schools through a 5th or 6th grade admission lottery in 2008 and 2009.

“Even though previous Mathematica studies showed KIPP had large positive impacts on student test scores, whether these gains led to improvements in college enrollment has been an open question, until now,” said Ira Nichols-Barrer, the study director. “These results show that KIPP middle schools produce a positive and statistically significant impact on enrollment rates in four-year college programs.”

The study also tracked the students who enrolled in college immediately after high school, and examined whether they remained in college programs over the next two years. Students who attended KIPP middle schools were more likely to still be enrolled in college after two years (33 percent) than similar students who did not attend KIPP middle schools (24 percent). Although rates of entering college immediately and then persisting for two years were higher for KIPP students, this difference was not large enough to be statistically significant.

The initial effects of KIPP middle schools on college enrollment rates are promising, but more time is needed to gain a clearer picture of KIPP’s effects on college persistence. In future years, it will be possible to observe college persistence rates among students who did not enroll immediately after high school and test whether KIPP ultimately impacts college graduation.

Impact of KIPP middle schools on enrollment in four-year college programs


*Impact estimate is significantly different from zero at the .05 level, two-tailed test.

Read more about the study.