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 2016–17 school year, the school enrolled 884 students in grades 5 through 10. Most (85 percent) of the students are low-income, and 90 percent are black or Hispanic.
The Kauffman Foundation commissioned Mathematica Policy Research to conduct a nine-year study of the Kauffman School. In the latest report, Mathematica’s analysis of data from the school’s first six 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.
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 other charter school studies 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.
Positive impact on attendance. During the 2016–17 school year, the Kauffman School had a positive impact on student attendance. Kauffman students’ attendance rates were about 1 percentage point higher than those of comparison students (Figure 3). The Kauffman School has had a similar positive impact every school year since 2012–13.
Figure 3. The Kauffman School has a positive impact on student attendance.
Moving forward. Mathematica is currently working on the seventh year of the Kauffman School study. As Kauffman students continue to progress through their high school years, the evaluation will begin to analyze their college readiness, graduation rate, and college matriculation.
In addition to the report on the Kauffman School’s six-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.