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Ewing Marion Kauffman Charter School Evaluation
In fall 2011 the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation opened the Kauffman School, a public, tuition-free charter school serving students in Kansas City, Missouri. The hallmarks of the Kauffman School include ambitious academic goals, high attendance and character expectations, an extended school day and year, increased mathematics and reading instructional time, intensive data-driven decision making, extensive teacher professional development, and well-established cultural norms. In the 2017–18 school year, the school enrolled 994 students in grades 5 through 11. Most (87 percent) of the students were low-income, and 89 percent were black or Hispanic.
The Kauffman Foundation commissioned Mathematica to conduct a nine-year study of the Kauffman School. In the latest report, Mathematica’s analysis of data from the school’s first seven years of operation showed sustained positive impacts on student achievement growth in mathematics, English language arts, and science, beyond the growth achieved by students in other Kansas City public schools (Figure 1). One of the goals stated in the Kauffman School’s charter is that its students, on average, will achieve at least 1.25 years of learning growth for each year they are enrolled in the school. Kauffman students have achieved this goal in each subject for all enrollment durations. The sizes of the five-year impacts are more than enough to close the Algebra I, English II, and Biology achievement gaps for black students in Kansas City.
Figure 1. The Kauffman School has substantial positive impacts on student achievement.
Larger impacts than in other charter school studies. The positive impact of the Kauffman School on its students compares favorably to the average impacts reported in studies of other charter schools from around the country (Figure 2; citations are in the full report).
Figure 2. The Kauffman School’s three-year impacts are higher than those found in studies of other charter schools.
Higher ACT scores than other Kansas City high schools. Average ACT scores of 11th-grade Kauffman students are substantially higher than those of 11th graders attending other high schools in Kansas City (scores reported as national percentile ranks in Figure 3; these results represent a simple comparison of averages because the necessary data were not available to calculate the impact of the Kauffman School on student ACT scores).
Figure 3. The Kauffman School’s ACT scores are higher than those of other high schools in Kansas City.
Moving forward. Mathematica is currently working on the eighth year of the Kauffman School study. In the coming year, the evaluation will analyze the high school graduation and college matriculation outcomes of Kauffman students.
In addition to the report on the Kauffman School’s seven-year impacts, an issue brief on the school’s hallmarks is available, as is a journal article describing how these hallmarks may be related to the school’s positive impacts on student outcomes.