Assessing the Long-Term Impacts of KIPP Middle Schools on College Enrollment and Persistence

2018-2019
Prepared for
Laura and John Arnold Foundation

This long-term randomized controlled trial followed students who applied to enter KIPP middle schools in 2008 and 2009, and measured their outcomes in college. The study answered the following research questions:

  • What impact do KIPP middle schools have on students’ enrollment in a four year college?
  • What impact do KIPP middle schools have on persistence in four–year college programs during the first two years after high school graduation?

It used data from the National Student Clearinghouse on college enrollment and estimated impacts by examining the outcomes of students who had applied to KIPP middle schools via an admissions lottery. The main findings include:

  • Students who received a lottery-based admissions offer to a KIPP middle school were 6.9 percentage points more likely to enroll in a four-year college than students who applied to KIPP but were not offered admission. These “intention to treat” impact estimates use a conservative approach that includes students in the treatment group even if they declined to enroll in a KIPP school after receiving an admissions offer.
  • In an exploratory analysis, the study adjusted for which students actually attended a KIPP school. While this “treatment-on-the-treated” impact estimate involves making additional assumptions as part of the analysis, the approach can more directly measure the potential effects of attending a KIPP school. After adjusting for KIPP attendance patterns following the lottery, the impact estimate almost doubles in size: attending KIPP produced an increase of 12.9 percentage points in enrollment rates in four-year college programs. In our sample, 52 percent of students who attended KIPP enrolled in a four-year college within two years after high school graduation, compared to 39 percent of control students. An effect of this size represents a meaningful change in college enrollment rates. The impact of attending a KIPP school is similar in magnitude to the nationwide racial disparity in college enrollment rates between white students and black or Hispanic students (a gap of approximately 14 percentage points in 2017).
  • 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 these initial persistence rates were higher for KIPP students, this difference was not large enough to be statistically significant.