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Another Great Charter School: KIPP Infinity

Last week I visited another great New York City charter school: KIPP Infinity in West Harlem. Infinity serves grades 5 through 8.

In the most recent NYC Department of Education progress report, KIPP Infinity received the highest overall score amongst all 1,043 elementary, middle, and K-8 schools that were graded. On their 2007-08 “Learning Environment Survey Report”, in which parents, teachers, and students are surveyed, the scores were uniformly excellent and, often, outliers. For example, on parent engagement, they scored a 125% on a scale from 0 to 100%.

As I talked with principal Joe Negron in his office (a table in the hallway), it was clear that his focus is on further improvement. He noted, for example, that while most of Infinity’s students pass the state tests, few of them have advanced into the most selective high schools.

The students at Infinity seem focused and mature for middle schoolers. Unlike the great elementary charter schools I have mentioned (here and here), Infinity generally has one teacher per classroom with an average class size of 25. Still, the students seem attentive and engaged. Many of the teachers have been at the school since day one and turnover has been very low. Clearly, they are doing a tremendous job.

Interestingly, all KIPP schools plan on using MAP tests to help them to better assess student progress on a national level. Infinity is happy about this development: they don’t believe that the state assessments are sufficient for them to take their students to the next level.

As part of the larger KIPP NYC network, Infinity staff can focus on educational issues. A “Shared Services Team” for the network provides support in the core functional areas of finance, HR, operations, technology, and development.

Of course, being a KIPP NYC school has brought the distraction of the KIPP AMP unionization controversy. Negron confirmed that, contrary to some early media reports, Infinity teachers were not involved in the situation.

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