KIPP Through College

At KIPP LA Schools (KIPP LA), we believe that the real achievement gap is not the differences in test scores or high school graduation rates between our richest and poorest communities. Rather, we see the true achievement gap as the difference in college graduation rates among these populations. High-income students graduate college at ten times the rate of low-income students - 80% versus 8% on average. At KIPP LA, we are committed to supporting both our current students and our alumni on their journey to and through college. We seek to create and build partnerships that will support our students as they transition from our schools at the end of 8th grade to high-performing high schools and on to selective colleges.

KIPP LA's KIPP Through College (KTC) program does just that by providing one-on-one support to our alumni as they enter high school, apply to college, and make their way through higher education and the workforce. KTC team members ensure that KIPP LA's 8th graders matriculate to a high-performing college preparatory high school that will prepare them for success in college. KTC's high school placement coordinators travel among our middle school sites to support our existing 360 7th and 8th grade students. Our students receive personalized assistance with high school selection and applications, financial aid and scholarships, and the high school transition process. In 2012, KIPP LA placed 96% of our 8th grade students in college-preparatory charter, magnet, independent day, parochial, and boarding schools.

From there, KTC stays with our students throughout high school, providing help with coursework selection, college planning services, and individual and family counseling. As our alumni approach high school graduation, KTC staff support them as they identify and apply to colleges, seek financial aid, and prepare to enter the college environment. Once our alumni are in college, KTC college retention advisors provide the necessary support services to see our alumni through college graduation. This includes making site visits whenever possible, sending care packages, providing academic support, helping students secure study abroad opportunities, and assisting with the community college and university transfer process if necessary.

KTC also strives to prepare our students for their future careers and instill an understanding of and excitement for these goals. This preparation may include a range of mentoring-based activities, such as summer internships, work study programs, resume writing, and interview workshops with career mentors, organizations and community allies.

In addition to personalized services, KTC hosts an annual high school fair for our students, gathering representatives from Los Angeles' highest performing high schools to answer enrollment questions. KTC also hosts a "Mocktail Party" for our alumni, providing an opportunity to practice networking and share their future ambitions with career professionals. Further, the KTC team leads college visits for our alumni to competitive schools across the country, and operates a 12th Grade Application Bootcamp that provides intensive support with college applications. Finally, KTC provides college scholarships to students with high academic potential, a strong record of community service, and demonstrated financial need. KIPP LA believes that this unique program serves as a model for others working to help students from underserved communities earn college degrees and lead fulfilling lives.

The KTC team is comprised of a director, three college access advisors, one college retention advisor, and two high school placement coordinators. Each KTC team member has a deep commitment to helping underserved students succeed in high school, college, and the competitive world beyond. Now in its third year, KTC has established a proven track record of success in preparing KIPP LA alumni for their journey to and through college.

Currently, KTC serves approximately 740 KIPP LA alumni, of which 520 are in high school and 220 are persisting in college. Our alumni are spread across 140 high schools that KTC staff have deemed to provide a rigorous and college-preparatory education. Additionally, nearly 85% of our oldest alumni cohorts, the Classes of 2011 and 2012, are enrolled in 81 colleges and universities across the country. Next year, KTC will serve 910 alumni, including 540 high school students and 370 college students.

With the unwavering support of KIPP LA’s KTC program, 84% of our alumni are persisting in college, whereas in South and East Los Angeles, only 4% of students graduate college. As KTC continues to serve more KIPP LA alumni, we anticipate that we will increase the number of college graduates in these neighborhoods by 50%. In the long term, this will mean dramatic increases in academic attainment in some of Los Angeles’ most underserved communities.


What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

If it were a district, KIPP LA would be the highest performing in Los Angeles County serving a majority of students from low-income communities. For nearly a decade, KIPP LA’s schools have been proving what is possible in raising student achievement in traditionally underserved low-income communities. In 2011-12, KIPP LA’s weighted average Academic Performance Index (API) score was 892 (800 is the statewide goal), compared to 700 in the neighboring schools of South and East Los Angeles. KIPP LA Prep, in Boyle Heights, is the highest-performing middle school in Los Angeles Unified School District for the second year in a row with an API of 924. Similarly, KIPP Raíces Academy, in East LA, outperforms 98 percent of elementary schools in California with an API of 961. According to the national norm-referenced SAT-10 test, 96 percent of KIPP LA’s kindergarteners and 94 percent of our first graders scored at or above the national average in English language arts. Finally, 96 percent of KIPP LA alumni are attending high-performing, college-prep high schools, and nearly 85 percent are currently enrolled in college.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

KIPP LA and the KTC team work closely with high schools, colleges, and universities that our alumni attend to ensure that they are succeeding on their journeys to and through college. KTC is also working to formalize these partnerships with select local institutions of higher education to create supportive communities for our alumni. In the long term, we believe college partnerships will identify strategies that educational institutions can implement to help close the achievement gap for all students of color and first-generation college students.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

A key ingredient to KIPP LA’s success is our commitment to data-driven decision-making and transparency. The KTC team regularly evaluates both quantitative and qualitative data to ensure that we are having the greatest impact possible on our students’ lives. This includes the number of students who matriculate to high-performing high schools, the number of students who participate in KTC support services such as financial aid assistance and counseling, and the number of students who enter, persist in, and graduate from selective colleges and universities.

In the coming year, KIPP LA and KTC will strive to meet the following goals and objectives:

• Each year, KIPP LA’s middle schools will place 95 percent of eighth graders in college-preparatory high schools (high schools that provide college counseling for all students, offer the “A-G” courses the University of California requires, and have an Academic Performance Index score of 800+).

• At least 80 percent of KIPP LA middle school alumni will enroll in college each year.

• At least 10 percent of KIPP LA alumni in grades 9-12 will attend a summer or enrichment program.

• At least 15 percent of KIPP LA alumni in grades 9-12 will participate in KTC enrichment programs, (such as the alumni volunteer program, internship program, job shadowing, career networking party, college partnership summer programs, college tours/fairs, and application boot camps).

• At least 80 percent of KIPP LA alumni will persist in college.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

The neighborhoods of South and East Los Angeles, where KIPP LA students and alumni live, face astonishingly high levels of illiteracy, drug abuse, gang violence, and juvenile crime. Schools are overcrowded and underperforming; virtually all traditional public middle and high schools are failing according to No Child Left Behind. Overall, fewer than 10 percent of students in these neighborhoods attend a four-year college or university after graduating high school and only 4 percent go on to obtain a degree.

Today more than ever, students in underserved communities need an outstanding education to prepare them for success in life and to overcome the cycle of poverty. Research suggests that by 2018, 63 percent of jobs will require some higher education. By comparison, only 36 percent of jobs will be available to those with a high school degree or lower, leaving those without higher degrees access to even fewer jobs than they have today. Over the course of a lifetime, college graduates will earn on average $1.6 million more than those without a degree.

Unfortunately, the youth of South and East Los Angeles are highly unlikely to graduate high school college-ready or go on to graduate college. According to The Education Trust West, only 22 percent of LAUSD students graduate with the requirements necessary to enroll in a University of California institution. This is the case for only 16 percent of Latino students. Research suggests that just over half of these students will matriculate to college and only 41 percent of them will graduate. Based on these figures, we estimate that only 4 percent of students in South and East Los Angeles actually obtain a college degree within six years.

KIPP LA, on the other hand, is succeeding at helping students from underserved communities “climb the mountain” to and through college. With the unwavering support of KIPP LA’s KTC team, 96 percent of our alumni are attending 140 high-performing, college-prep high schools, and nearly 85 percent are currently attending over 80 colleges and universities across the country. We foresee that our alumni – as self-directed, purposeful college graduates – will also work to improve educational and economic opportunities across Los Angeles. This will mean stronger economic outcomes, such as lifetime earnings and employment rates, in the city’s currently most underserved areas. Thus, supporting KIPP LA is not only an investment in underserved students’ education and preparation for college; it is an investment in the future of our city and country.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

In 2050, success in education would mean that every student in Los Angeles, regardless of their zip code or demographics, attends a high-quality, college-preparatory school from kindergarten through 12th grade. Ultimately, all students in Los Angeles will never face the achievement gap and will be instilled with the belief that every day they can and will succeed in college and life. Classrooms will reflect the 21st century reality of the global workforce, preparing students for careers that may not yet exist through constant access to technology, project-based learning, and opportunities for critical thinking and creative problem solving.

Teachers will be dedicated to and passionate about their craft, providing a nurturing and rigorous learning environment for their students. Schools will become true communities of best practice, sharing lessons learned and helping improve the quality of education across the city. School leaders will be empowered as instructional leaders to build their schools to best align with the communities and students they serve.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, students from underserved communities will matriculate to and graduate from competitive colleges and universities both in California and across the nation at the same rates as their more advantaged peers. They will enter the college application process without reservations, certain that they are prepared for the rigors and challenges of higher education. They will be educated about the financial aid options available to them and able to access them easily. They will be accepted to a wide variety of schools and will have the freedom to choose the one that will provide them with the best opportunities. And ultimately, all students will have a high quality, rigorous higher education experience and graduate with the degrees they need to succeed in the competitive world.