by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Education is crucial to economic opportunity and social mobility, a vital pathway for individuals, especially low-income students, into the middle class. Veteran journalist Richard Whitmore documents how nine charter high school networks serving many low-income students ensure graduates earn a bachelor’s degree in six years, creating a foundation for future success and prosperity.
The average six-year college completion rate for students in the bottom-fourth income bracket not completing high school is 9 percent and for those completing high school, 11 percent. These network completion rates for students attending college at least six years are double or, depending upon the network, four times higher than those averages.
College completion is a far more challenging school success metric than college acceptance. How do these networks do this?
The premier example is KIPP, a national network of 183 charter schools. The KIPP Through College program uses a College Match Framework to counsel students through the college decision process, followed by far-reaching campus outreach through graduation.
KIPP also partners with more than 70 universities that enroll 8 to 10 students from KIPP or similar schools so students have peers with similar backgrounds. KIPP has raised alumni college completion from 33 percent in 2011 to 44 percent in 2014 — improved but still far from its 75 percent goal.