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Gary Rubinstein's Blog: Will KIPP NYC Be Disqualified (Again) From U.S. News & World Report Best High School Rankings?

There is exactly one KIPP high school in New York City.

KIPP NYC College Prep High School was started in 2009 to serve students graduating from KIPP middle schools. In 2013 they moved into a new facility that was part of a $100 million project.

While KIPP was once the ‘gold standard’ of charter schools, they do seem to have lost their luster. Once featured in the Waiting For Superman ‘documentary,’ KIPP does seem to have failed to live up to the original expectations. Between 1995 and 2010 they grew steadily but over the years there have been so many KIPPs that have not performed well and have closed down. Though occasionally there is some report, like recently, about how minority students who attend KIPP high schools have a higher college graduation rate than minority students who don’t, the reports seem to have a lot of flaws.

Every year, U.S. News & World Report ranks the high schools in this countryBased mostly on A.P. results, the national rankings and the state by state rankings can be important, especially for charter schools who can use a high ranking as something to put into a report for funders.

According to the latest 2023-2024 rankings, the top two charter high schools in New York City are Success Academy Charter at #12 and KIPP Academy Charter at #20.

In my most recent post I explained how Success Academy’s standing is inflated by their use of the ‘fifth year of high school’ lowering their less important graduation rate statistic while raising their college readiness statistic.

Now for KIPP, there are some notable things just based on this abbreviated view of their results on the U.S. News site. For one thing, the name of the KIPP high school is not ‘KIPP Academy Charter School’ but ‘KIPP NYC College Prep.’ The other thing is that their Enrollment is listed as 276 instead of the 1000 students they actually have. And, yes, they have the all important College Readiness score of 100 which means that all of their seniors take and get a 3 on at least one AP exam.

The mystery gets stranger when you search for KIPP high schools in New York and two schools come up, KIPP Academy and KIPP Infinity.

So there is the other KIPP high school in NYC according to U.S. News and that school has 4 times the number of students and in that under performing sibling of the 20th ranked school they don’t have any students passing the AP test. How can this be?

The answer is that there are not two KIPP high schools but only one. These schools, KIPP Academy and KIPP Infinity are actually middle schools. Even in the New York State data, there is not an official KIPP NYC College Prep school but these middle schools have as part of their enrollment the high school students. I don’t know why New York State allows them to do this and why they can assign all the students and only the students who pass an AP exam to KIPP Academy middle school and the students who don’t pass an AP to KIPP Academy Infinity middle school.

According to the KIPP website, over 90% of the over 1000 students at the (one and only) KIPP High School take an A.P. course.

If 90% of the students take the test but only 25% of those get a 3 and are put into the KIPP Academy middle school numbers, that means that 75% of those students (which is about 70% of the students at the actual KIPP high school) take an A.P. but don’t get a 3 on it. So if the two schools were accurately listed as one school in the U.S. News rankings, the combined college readiness score would be around a 25 which would put them not at #20 in New York State but more like #300.

Now one way to defend KIPP on this is to say that this is New York State’s fault. They are the ones that allow KIPP to assign the students from their one high school into two middle schools depending on whether or not they pass their AP tests and that New York State reports the data to U.S. News who have no way of knowing that these are really just the students from one high school. But certainly it would be ethical of KIPP to let U.S. News know about this.

But I’m not going to put the blame on New York State entirely. Because U.S. News should have been aware of this as the same thing happened six years ago. Back then they had four different middle schools categorized as high schools. I discovered this scheme back then and blogged about it and a few months later KIPP was disqualified from the list, possibly because word of my post got back to them. But not before the ‘school’ was celebrated in places like The74 for being, at that time, the fourth ranked high school.

For sure they should be disqualified again like they were in 2017. Then this loophole should be closed by New York State. There is just no reason why a high school in its own $100 million building has students assigned to two different middle schools depending on how they did on the AP test. If New York State won’t fix the loophole then U.S. News can check for this with the KIPP NYC schools especially since they have done this before. And KIPP could do more than just hope nobody will notice what happened again.


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Gary Rubinstein

Gary Rubinstein is a high school math teacher. He is the recipient of the 2005 Math for America Master Teacher Fellowship. ...