When I think about this year at KPEA, I don't just think about our school-wide accomplishments (and the many, many, many places we're working to get better), but this year I'm also thinking about my son who was in kindergarten this year at KPEA. At the start of the year, I wrote about the decision my wife and I made to send him to KPEA so I wanted to include some thoughts about how his year went and what it was like having my son at school with me.
One last item before jumping in - there are lots of results below that I'm super proud of. People sometimes ask me what I think contributes to those achievements and to be honest, I wish I had a "cooler" answer. We try and do a bunch of things we think are important (tons of small group instruction, smart use of data, a positive student culture vision, deep family engagement, etc.) but none of those are ideas that most schools aren't already aiming for. The reason for our success is really pretty boring - we have amazing teachers and staff who care a ton, work really hard, and push themselves to always be getting better. You see the impact of their talent both in our PSSA scores and in how much my son loves learning.
KPEA end of year academic results:
- Overall PSSA results were up over last year, with math results rising from an average of 39% scoring advanced/proficient last year to 53% scoring at that level this year, an increase of 42 percent from the 15-16 school year.
- Both 3rd and 4th grade ELA results are now at almost 60% scoring advanced/proficient, up from 47% two years ago.
- While we don’t yet know how other schools across the city or state did, we do have last year’s results to compare them to. If those comparison averages stay relatively stable, our PSSA scores in ELA and math are at least double the district average and those scores would be about equal to the PA state averages. Like last year, we expect to be among the highest scoring elementary schools in the city educating traditionally underserved students.
- Besides the PSSA, our students take the nationally normed NWEA MAP assessment which allows us to compare our students to typical students all across the country. On this assessment, more than half of our 3rd and 4th grades score at or above the 50th percentile (national average). In other words, our students from North Philadelphia are achieving at levels at or above what is typical for any student in the country.
- Nearly 90% of kindergarten students are reading on grade level according to our STEP literacy assessment.
Additional student accomplishments:
- Our awesome school garden was honored at an event featuring Dole, Shop Rite, and Captain Planet.
- 3rd graders performed at Carnegie Hall with hundreds of other students as part of the Link Up program.
- 4th graders earned the highest level at the city-wide Reading Olympics
- 4th graders created and presented projects about how to make their neighborhood or city a better place
- Student went on field trips to farms, museums, wildlife centers, aquariums, the Statue of Liberty, and so many more.
- We had a 98.4% in-year student retention rate.
- 91% of students who started Day 1 of kindergarten in August of 2012 were promoted from 4th grade this spring. We’ve back-filled those small number of spots over the years.
- We had a 2% suspension rate, meaning 98% of students at KPEA were not suspended.
- We have a robust social work program, including one of the few charters schools in city to have the FAST program working to support families.
- 69% of students qualify for some form of public assistance and 89% of students qualify for free/reduced lunch.
- 26% of students qualify for special education services
- 99% of students are people of color, including 93% who are African-American
- 87% of KPEA teacher/staff are coming back next year to a role at KIPP Philly (this includes two staff members moving into new roles in our organization as we grow)
- We maintained our 100% rate (8 for 8) of new assistant principals over the years being promoted from being a teacher at KPEA.
- Half of our teachers/staff are people of color.
Now a little bit about my son's experience. In short, it was wonderful. He loves school, learning, and being a KIPPster. I loved getting to peak on him working hard in his classroom, him getting to stop in at my office to say "hi" on his way to the bathroom, and our weekly routine of getting bagels and going in early to school every Wednesday. He has lots of friends both in his classroom and in our after school program. He was pushed academically to achieve at a high level (bragging here - but he's on a 2nd grade reading level) due to all the differentiation we do, even going to 1st grade for math two days a week. He created really awesome art projects, wrote creative stories, and even though he didn't like singing publicly in class, loved singing songs he learned in music class when we got home. When he was having a hard time handling consequences early in the year, his teachers were the perfect combination of firm and flexible with him and he quickly made progress. And being in a classroom full of students who don't look like him was really great too. He was exposed to ideas and experiences that are different than his own and he was full of questions - as well as answers to his friends' questions. Driving home from school we talked about what he did in art class or what book he read in guided reading, but we also discussed race, religion, racism, and why there is a Black History Month, but not a White History Month. I didn't always know exactly what the right answer was for all of his questions but the fact that he was asking them let me know we had made the right decision to send him to KPEA.