During Daisy Montes Cabrera’s final week of her first quarter at UC Davis, her father, who was terminally ill, died. Cabrera, a first-generation college student, wanted to leave Davis to be closer to her family in San Jose. But her high school college adviser, principal and teachers all encouraged her to stay, she said.

Cabrera’s high school – KIPP San Jose Collegiate – is part of the Knowledge Is Power Program charter school organization, which focuses on preparing low-income and first-generation students for college. For the past few years, KIPP has expanded its K-12 program to include supporting “KIPPsters” through their college years.

As part of the KIPP Through College program, the charter group has partnered with more than 50 public and private universities nationwide, seeking their support to help KIPP alumni integrate both academically and socially into college life. In California, 11 universities, including UC Davis, work with KIPP. Steve Mancini, communications director for KIPP, says that he doesn’t know of any other K-12 programs in the country that have this type of partnership with a wide range of universities.

“I wanted to quit Davis,” Cabrera said, “but right away I got calls and messages from all my high school teachers to keep going. I got a Facebook message from my principal saying, ‘let us know what you need.'”

Cabrera also had long talks with Lisa Lopez, who is a college retention counselor from her high school.

“Losing her dad was really, really rough on her,” Lopez said. “But she knew her dad would want her to continue her education.”

Overall, 96 percent of KIPP students who make it through the intense curriculum, which includes an expanded school day, and graduate from 8th grade finish high school. KIPP has focused primarily on K-8 students, but also has some high schools.

But KIPP leaders realized that many of their students who went on to become first-generation college students were dropping out. They hired counselors, such as Lopez, to provide support to their students through college.

Cabrera said the continued support she received from KIPP after graduating from high school was key to her staying at UC Davis. After her father died, Cabrera, now a sophomore, returned to Davis to take her finals and earned a 3.2 GPA that first quarter.

Knowing KIPP had such a program also helped Cabrera take that initial leap to leave home and go to a large university. When she was accepted into UC Davis, she said she and her parents were proud but anxious.

“It was really scary for me that I was going to a real university,” she said. “My parents were afraid they couldn’t give enough guidance because they didn’t go to college.”

Only about half of first-generation students graduate from college within six years, compared to almost two-thirds of students whose parents have some college experience, according to a 2011 UCLA study. First-generation students have less social and financial support and lack coping strategies, according to a 2011 study published in the College Student Journal, which also noted that they are more likely to have to support family members and feel ill-prepared for college.

The KIPP program targets those obstacles.            

Partner colleges typically offer an orientation for KIPP students and their parents. They agree to provide someone on the campus as a point person for KIPP alumni. That person often also works with other low-income, first-generation students. The point person and a KIPP college retention counselor help the students connect to resources on campus, such as tutoring or the career center, support them as they navigate financial aid and job opportunities, and encourage them to get involved in clubs or take advantage of networking opportunities through volunteer work. They also help make space available on campus for “KIPPsters” to meet.

In addition, KIPP asks alumni who are succeeding academically and socially to act as ambassadors for new students. Cabrera took on that role this year. KIPP gives the ambassador a small budget – $100 per quarter – to support monthly events.

At UC Davis, a university-sponsored luncheon was the kickoff event for the KIPP alumni, where they met Associate Vice Chancellor Walter Robinson and Arnette Bates, assistant director of the Student Academic Success Center.

Robinson is in charge of outreach and enrollment planning for UC Davis. KIPP’s approach fits well with the university’s goal of offering continued support to students, especially those who are first-generation, he said. He said at the luncheon he was open to talking with students about any problems they were having fitting into college life. “We talked about everything under the sun,” he said.

KIPP staff and students “made you feel like you were part of a team,” said KIPP graduate Daisy Montes Cabrera. “I knew I could count on them forever.”

At the monthly events, students learn how to approach professors and ask questions and how to take advantage of the professors’ office hours to get help. Students put together an education plan so they will be better prepared when they meet with their academic advisers.

Right before finals, Cabrera hosted a study session where she gave away gift cards for pizza and Starbucks.

The support for KIPP students and their parents begins the summer before college. Cabrera attended KIPP’s two-day college transition program at Santa Clara University. She met KIPP students from all the area schools who were headed to college. Besides workshops, the students “just had fun,” she said.

“We did a dance performance together,” she said. “It made you feel like you were part of a team. I knew I could count on them forever. Coming back from losing my dad, a lot of them gave me support. They motivated me to stay at Davis. Going to a KIPP school is like being part of a family.”

After Cabrera’s father died, Lopez encouraged her to look for clubs to join as a way to not feel so lonely and become part of college life when she returned the next quarter. Cabrera chose Hermanas Unidas, which she said focuses on community service, academics and networking.

In Los Angeles, KIPP only has elementary and middle schools, but the organization still keeps track of its 8th-grade graduates as they progress through high school and into college. Counselors work with students to make sure they are taking the right classes to be eligible for college. During students’ senior year, KIPP counselors help them apply to colleges and find financial aid.

“We want them to think through what they want to do after they graduate from college,” said Lonneshia Webb, KIPP LA college retention manager.

Kristina Arreola is a KIPP LA Prep middle school graduate and a senior at UC Irvine, where she is majoring in social ecology and minoring in education. She says that Lonneshia Webb, KIPP LA college retention manager, visits KIPP alumni at UC Irvine three times a year. Webb put her in touch with campus resources she did not know about, Arreola said, such as librarians who help students with research papers and a special website, Degree Works, that gives an overview of the classes students need to take to fulfill their general education, major and minor requirements.

“We don’t want to waste our time and money taking classes that don’t help us graduate,” said Arreola, who commutes to college from her parents’ home in Los Angeles and works part time.

Webb said she also encourages KIPP students to go to the career center and take advantage of internship and volunteer opportunities in fields they are considering.

“We want them to think through what they want to do after they graduate from college,” Webb said.

Arreola recently began volunteering at Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, where she learned about the career of child life specialist. These specialists help children and families cope with debilitating childhood diseases. She now plans to become a certified child life specialist and earn a master’s degree in the field.

Although she found that volunteer opportunity herself, Arreola credits Webb with helping her understand the benefits of volunteering.

“Lonnie taught me the value of putting yourself out there, of networking with new people,” she said.

Arreola is hoping to pass on the good support and advice she has received by acting as a KIPP ambassador. The ambassador program just started in fall 2014 at UC Irvine for the 25 KIPP alumni on the campus.

Arreola and her co-ambassador hosted two events after the orientation session at UC Irvine. She talked to the new students about techniques that worked for studying and what doesn’t work, like procrastination.

“I gave them my email and phone number,” she said. “We want them to look at us as friends, people there to help them, not authority figures.”

“I know they are there for you your whole four years in college,” said KIPP graduate Jesse Aguirre. “I feel like if I have a question, I can always call my high school college counselor, my old teachers, or Mr. Ling.”

One of KIPP’s most recent partners in the San Francisco Bay Area is St. Mary’s College, a private college in Moraga. David Ling, director of KIPP Through College in the Bay Area, said KIPP chose to partner with St. Mary’s because of its efforts to support first-generation students. Besides a summer bridge program for incoming freshmen, St. Mary’s requires freshmen to take an hour-and-40-minute advising class each week to acquaint students with the resources on campus available to them and help them develop their education plans.

Because of that class, freshman Jesse Aguirre said he has not taken as much advantage as he could of his KIPP mentor, who checks in with him once a month.

“In the beginning, I felt discombobulated, and KIPP counselors helped with the transition a lot,” he said. “I know they are there for you your whole four years in college. I feel like if I have a question, I can always call my high school college counselor, my old teachers, or Mr. Ling.”

 

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  1. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    Public school policy has evolved to keep kids off the streets and academic instruction takes second fiddle. The willful defiance suspension ban has made schools like KIPP, which take behavior and effort seriously, all the more appealing to parents who need to find some way out of the public school warehouses. Creating a market is easy for savvy charter school operators who can show parents they take discipline and effort seriously because politicians and … Read More

    Public school policy has evolved to keep kids off the streets and academic instruction takes second fiddle. The willful defiance suspension ban has made schools like KIPP, which take behavior and effort seriously, all the more appealing to parents who need to find some way out of the public school warehouses. Creating a market is easy for savvy charter school operators who can show parents they take discipline and effort seriously because politicians and policymakers in education have demonstrated that they don’t take discipline and effort seriously. With the chaos that is so common in TPSs, many teachers would welcome back an era in which students could not disturbthe classroom with impunity. If Paul’s right and commitment and effort is a conservative thing, it is no wonder San Francisco Unified, as a large urban district, has the lowest scores among underperforming ethnic groups. No wonder liberals got it wrong. They’re lazy!

    Caroline, high expectations are part of the KIPP philosophy. If kids can’t handle it, they can go over to a TPS where they don’t have to worry about getting in trouble at school. Those schools are designed to house slackers..

  2. Andrew 2 years ago2 years ago

    I'd be more inclined to find the article heartwarming if KIPP managed itself so as to avoid the abysmal charter teacher turnover that characterizes the charter industry. The New York Times reported in 2013 that KIPP keeps its teachers for an average of four years. A school that is truly good for students will be good for its teachers as well, and will retain them for the long term … Read More

    I’d be more inclined to find the article heartwarming if KIPP managed itself so as to avoid the abysmal charter teacher turnover that characterizes the charter industry. The New York Times reported in 2013 that KIPP keeps its teachers for an average of four years. A school that is truly good for students will be good for its teachers as well, and will retain them for the long term like any good employer in America.

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

      You know any child or parent whose child is kicked out of these charters is probably no victim, Don is right. Caroline, if you actually analyzed the behavior of a child in this situation, you'll probably find they barely study, behave poorly and aren't following the moral guidelines KIPP lays out or even making a serious effort to do so. They probably selfishly put their own mood over the learning of their classmates … Read More

      You know any child or parent whose child is kicked out of these charters is probably no victim, Don is right. Caroline, if you actually analyzed the behavior of a child in this situation, you’ll probably find they barely study, behave poorly and aren’t following the moral guidelines KIPP lays out or even making a serious effort to do so. They probably selfishly put their own mood over the learning of their classmates and had multiple chances to improve their behavior. Why you feel sorry for people who have a great opportunity to go to a nice charter school and improve their lives and are willfully defiant and undermine the behavioral requirements, something which could improve all public schools if followed by all children and parents, is beyond me. It certainly won’t improve test scores to glorify bad behavior and make these people out to be victims and not require any sort of decent human behavior. You are more mad at people that actually want to put teeth into rules and require kids to act like decent, determined, moral human beings desiring an education than you are at people who are acting like jerks in school, arguing with teachers, starting fights, disrupting classes. Your method will never improve education for poor children or minorities or reduce the achievement gap. There is no moral standard; everyone is just a victim and the status quo and misbehavior on a massive scale are king! You’re not part of the solution Caroline, you’re part of the problem!

  3. CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

    This needs to give data on what percentage of KIPP students don't make it through the "intense curriculum." It's typical of charter schools -- and KIPP especially -- to cite their high graduation rates while ignoring or concealing their typically very high dropout/pushout rates, so the story isn't complete without that information. Overall, 96 percent of KIPP students who make it through the intense curriculum, which includes an expanded school day, and graduate from … Read More

    This needs to give data on what percentage of KIPP students don’t make it through the “intense curriculum.” It’s typical of charter schools — and KIPP especially — to cite their high graduation rates while ignoring or concealing their typically very high dropout/pushout rates, so the story isn’t complete without that information.

    Overall, 96 percent of KIPP students who make it through the intense curriculum, which includes an expanded school day, and graduate from 8th grade finish high school. KIPP has focused primarily on K-8 students, but also has some high schools.

    Replies

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      The fact that it's challenging equates to a higher dropout rate. So I guess if Caroline had her way KIPP would lower the number of hours in school, water down the curriculum and generally put up with whatever behaviors students care to bring to school as part of a policy to keep students from dropping out. Of course, then there wouldn't be any purpose in having the school and it would close down. … Read More

      The fact that it’s challenging equates to a higher dropout rate. So I guess if Caroline had her way KIPP would lower the number of hours in school, water down the curriculum and generally put up with whatever behaviors students care to bring to school as part of a policy to keep students from dropping out. Of course, then there wouldn’t be any purpose in having the school and it would close down. She never met a charter school she didn’t like regardless of how many kids drop out.

      The people (and Caroline is one of them) who are against charters simply don’t want any competition in the public school arena.

      • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

        Caroline supports LIFO even if teachers lie about being sick. Let’s graduate everyone even if they’re idiots. We can all feel good. KUMBAYA!

        • el 2 years ago2 years ago

          I know this is your hobbyhorse, but honestly, I view any time that LIFO is applied to be a failure... it generally means we are cutting funding when we have no cut in demand or need for services. LIFO is the right tool to use when there must be dramatic layoffs. The answer is not to remove LIFO as a last resort way to cut staff but to stop putting districts in the position of … Read More

          I know this is your hobbyhorse, but honestly, I view any time that LIFO is applied to be a failure… it generally means we are cutting funding when we have no cut in demand or need for services. LIFO is the right tool to use when there must be dramatic layoffs. The answer is not to remove LIFO as a last resort way to cut staff but to stop putting districts in the position of issuing huge numbers of pink slips for budgetary reasons.

          I’m all in favor of firing and/or removing staff that aren’t doing their job well, whether the budget is flush or lean.

      • el 2 years ago2 years ago

        I would say it this way instead. When we look at our feelings about public schools, we are comparing the numbers of all kids who start with say all kids who graduate from 12th grade, and seeing an 80% rate. KIPP is saying that kids that get to 8th grade with them have a 96% rate. But, those numbers aren't comparable. The kids who didn't cut it at KIPP are ending up in the overall numbers, discards … Read More

        I would say it this way instead.

        When we look at our feelings about public schools, we are comparing the numbers of all kids who start with say all kids who graduate from 12th grade, and seeing an 80% rate.

        KIPP is saying that kids that get to 8th grade with them have a 96% rate. But, those numbers aren’t comparable. The kids who didn’t cut it at KIPP are ending up in the overall numbers, discards left for the public school system. Are they kids that weren’t going to succeed no matter what? Are they kids that KIPP broke with their strict curriculum? For example, it’s probably true that the population of kids at any school scoring proficient or advanced at the end of 8th grade have a ~96% graduation rate.

        I am in favor of the existence of KIPP if people want to choose it. I am not in favor of the deification of KIPP as The Answer For All Children, nor do I think it is scalable to all schools. I think there are kids who are more successful because of it, and other kids who would be completely miserable and crushed in it.

        • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

          If TPSs had REAL standards for behavior and effort like KIPP does the sky high dropout rate would be even higher than it currently is. Instead, with the new willful defiance ban students walk off campus with impunity and thumb their noses at administrators. I guess that’s better than causing havoc in the classroom, but I diverge.

          Correction to my post at 10:41pm:… she never met a charter she liked…

          • CarolineSF 2 years ago2 years ago

            My opinions are irrelevant; the point is that the statistic was incomplete, unsound and misleading without full information. If KIPP is proud of the fact that its standards mean a lot of students are forced to leave, that’s fine — but be honest and provide the information rather than concealing it. And the press needs to make that happen, including EdSource.

            • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

              Caroline, if you ever find a charter school you like or which has success in some way, will you mention it? You're such a one trick pony. My guess is you see value in the discipline and in some things but you just ignore them and focus on the negatives. Are you a real human being with opinions and a neutral mind to analyze facts or a lobbyist or lawyer or professional … Read More

              Caroline, if you ever find a charter school you like or which has success in some way, will you mention it? You’re such a one trick pony. My guess is you see value in the discipline and in some things but you just ignore them and focus on the negatives. Are you a real human being with opinions and a neutral mind to analyze facts or a lobbyist or lawyer or professional blogger with the teacher’s union as your sole client? Have you ever met a bad teacher who lasted decades or a teacher who took a day off just for fun or do these things just not exist in your world? We weren’t so excited about public education before charters started. We were way behind other nations. Some people try to do something and you act like what came before was perfect. I don’t know what you’re smoking but I want some.

            • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

              Here's a link to one KIPP schools philosophy: http://www.kippla.org/approach/five-pillars.cfm It's very clear up front what students will experience. Not surprisingly the philosophy is presented with a growth mindset. Is there something to be gained by presenting the philosophy in a critical fashion? Or is the critical point of view only for policy purposes? It's in the conservative world view that a person will fail due to lack of commitment/effort so as we see … Read More

              Here’s a link to one KIPP schools philosophy:

              http://www.kippla.org/approach/five-pillars.cfm

              It’s very clear up front what students will experience. Not surprisingly the philosophy is presented with a growth mindset. Is there something to be gained by presenting the philosophy in a critical fashion? Or is the critical point of view only for policy purposes? It’s in the conservative world view that a person will fail due to lack of commitment/effort so as we see the high charter dropout rates don’t deter conservatives enthusiasm for charters. So the critical point of view is only useful for liberals that might have somehow missed out on the overall fear that public education is being taken over by the Billionaire Boy’s club and the BBC is pushing charters. Of course those of us not interested in these political labels will acknowledge the power of KIPP’s methods both in charters and TPS. Not to say that is the only method that works as we can also acknowledge the success of other models such as home schooling and the Sudbury schools.

            • Caroline Grannan 2 years ago2 years ago

              In reply to Paul M. (no reply button there): I haven't criticized the philosophy or the notion that those who don't meet high standards will fail and leave the school, leading to an extremely (in some cases astoundingly) high attrition rate. Repeating: I don't criticize it. I'm just pointing it out and shining a light on it, since KIPP and its supporters consistently obfuscate, conceal and deny it. That leads to the question: If the … Read More

              In reply to Paul M. (no reply button there): I haven’t criticized the philosophy or the notion that those who don’t meet high standards will fail and leave the school, leading to an extremely (in some cases astoundingly) high attrition rate. Repeating: I don’t criticize it. I’m just pointing it out and shining a light on it, since KIPP and its supporters consistently obfuscate, conceal and deny it.

              That leads to the question: If the traditional public school down the street established the same standards and policies that led to the same attrition rate, causing its problem, challenged and unsuccessful students to depart without being replaced, would it achieve the same acclaim as the KIPP school?

              There’s a corollary question. Public schools can’t really afford high attrition unless circumstances mean they have no choice, because of the fact that state funding is allocated per student/day. Until you get to the age where dropping out is legal (high-poverty schools of all kinds tend to have high dropout rates), students flow in and flow out. At KIPP schools, the statistics consistently show that the outflow is far, far greater than the inflow (if there is any inflow). How can KIPP schools afford that high attrition? Does the philanthropic support they get enable them to take the hit of all that lost ADA money? (Corollary to the corollary is what about KIPP’s “long waiting lists,” which are constantly mentioned? Are those lists not tapped to replace the departing students?)

              All this would be interesting for some education journalist to look into. It would probably require a specialty education journalist working for a specialty education resource, as it’s too inside-baseball for the MSM. Seems like there might be someone like that around here.

            • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

              There’s the well publicized case of Rafe Esquith at Hobart Boulevard Elementary in LA. From what I read he uses some of the same strategies as KIPP. I don’t know if he has “dropouts”.

          • TheMorrigan 2 years ago2 years ago

            “… she never met a charter she liked…”

            Seriously, Don, is that really necessary? It really only succeeds in bringing out Floyd’s record player and turning the comment section into a one-up blog.

            Engage with Caroline and stop with the lame personal attacks. Try, at least, to turn a new leaf with the new year.

            • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

              TheMorrigan, we would like to engage in discussion but Caroline is acting like a lobbyist against charters. Go ahead and read through every comment she's ever written. Don is right. She's on auto-pilot. She isn't discovering something about charters while open-mindedly researching the issue, she's going through information looking for anything negative she can find about charters and ignoring anything positive she finds. It's ridiculous. That's not an honest … Read More

              TheMorrigan, we would like to engage in discussion but Caroline is acting like a lobbyist against charters. Go ahead and read through every comment she’s ever written. Don is right. She’s on auto-pilot. She isn’t discovering something about charters while open-mindedly researching the issue, she’s going through information looking for anything negative she can find about charters and ignoring anything positive she finds. It’s ridiculous. That’s not an honest discussion.

            • TheMorrigan 2 years ago2 years ago

              We are lobbying for our opinion here, Floyd–YOU most of all with your LIFO and tenure hiccoughs.

            • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

              TheMorrigan, if you can show me facts that LIFO/Tenure benefit kids and will raise our educational performance, I won't deny them. I generally do think teachers should have way more job security and protections than most professions. I just think it should be possible if a teacher doesn't come to back to school nights, misses maximum days, or performs badly. If 10% were fired over a career (not choosing to leave but … Read More

              TheMorrigan, if you can show me facts that LIFO/Tenure benefit kids and will raise our educational performance, I won’t deny them. I generally do think teachers should have way more job security and protections than most professions. I just think it should be possible if a teacher doesn’t come to back to school nights, misses maximum days, or performs badly. If 10% were fired over a career (not choosing to leave but fired) the others would work harder and miss fewer days. If I see facts, I admit them. I don’t pick and choose facts. If I see a charter fail, I admit it.

              Charters do some good by pressuring kids and parents to make an effort. Schools fail because many kids make virtually no effort, which is why Asians do well even in schools which the middle class avoids. Thus charters require kids who are behind to stay late and/or come in on Saturday, obey teachers, say certain pledges and adjust behavior, which is something which will have to happen if we as a society have a chance to actually close the achievement gap. These rules can fail if kids can be willfully defiant and the school can’t impose a consequence. Caroline opposes this not because she doesn’t believe such rules will make kids destined to be failures successful but because she wants charters to fail. She also is white/upper middle class/educated. If no one really pushes themselves and nothing drastic changes and no one feels pressure to work harder than the norm, as immigrants do, guess what, upper middle class kids with educated mothers do fine and the poor stay poor, convenient for upper middle class white educated liberals who claim they want lower income kids to have a chance but really want their kids to have an edge. Upper middle class white kids won’t do as well as they could, and will be passed up by Asian immigrants, which is why most upper middle income liberal whites come up with excuses to avoid holding out Asian and other immigrants as a positive example (Asian gangs, they’re just rich, they end up cracking, they do fewer extracurricular activities, they’re unhappy, they aren’t creative-all proven false time and time again) for others. Condescending keep the poor down prioritize adult interest groups policy suggestions are all we get.

              The status quo rules. Any attempt to help poor kids join the middle class isn’t met with honest intellectual analysis by those who want to ensure their kids can stay upper middle class without having to work too hard just because of their birthright. They’re a threat to their kids’ easy position so they are met with dishonest rhetoric and one-upmanship and, the best word for it is sophistry. It’s dishonest what she does and I’m calling her on it. She has never said one kind thing about charters or any method for actually creating more quintile movement among income groups. She just delights in being a thorn in the side of any movement which threatens the status quo, and the status quo is the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and everyone accepts their station in life quietly while pretending we’re making liberal progress and in reality making none at all!

        • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

          Agreed, it’s more valuable for removal of poor teachers. Layoffs ideally should never happen in education. It’s just that it could have been a side benefit of a bad situation to remove some long-term lemons, I mean in SF some truly lazy and awful teachers survived and some truly impressive ones were laid off. If there were another process to remove teachers everyone knows are awful, then who is laid off would be less of a factor.