KIPP Empower Academy has done it again. On the latest California state test, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Exam, KIPP Empower students substantially outperformed students at neighborhood Los Angeles Unified (LAUSD) elementary schools, and across all of LAUSD in both English Language Arts and math. In fact, their high-poverty population of South Los Angeles students outperformed 93 percent of all public elementary schools in California.
Students at KIPP Empower are almost exclusively children of color (83 percent black and 13 percent Latino), with 86 percent eligible for free or reduced price meals – both percentages within five points of its three closest neighborhood schools.
But on the 2015 CAASPP state testing system that includes the new Smarter Balanced exams, 63 percent of KIPP Empower students met or exceeded state standards in English Language Arts, and 55 percent did so in math. In comparison, 12 percent of students at the highest-scoring of its neighborhood schools met or exceeded standards in English Language Arts, and 18 percent did so in math.
KIPP Empower became one of the nation’s original major blended learning success stories when its students posted the highest accountability score of all Los Angeles County elementary schools in 2013, placing the school among the top performing elementary schools in California.
The model took form in 2010, when school leaders observed teachers struggling to keep up with specific educational challenges. They elected to partner with Education Elements, the Silicon Valley-based firm which has since gone on to become the nation’s top designer and implementer of personalized learning programs.
With financial support from California’s Jaquelin Hume Foundation, the team designed and optimised a classroom rotation model integrating technology into learning, and provided teachers with highly effective training to optimize the new tools. Students rotate during the day between accessing interactive digital content and working with classroom teachers, who can leverage their online work to personalize lessons and interventions. Because the model allows teachers to support each student at their precise mastery level on different learning standards, they are able to accelerate learning consistently and effectively.
Today, personalized learning models like KIPP Empower’s are proliferating across the different sectors of American education. This charter school pioneer today serves 565 students in kindergarten through fourth grade. And its student outcomes continue to demonstrate just how transformative personalized blended learning can be, when well designed and implemented by a team equipped to make it succeed.
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