In 2009, the percentage of KIPP DC: AIM Academy students scoring at or above proficient on the DC Comprehensive Assessment System (CAS) tests in both mathematics and reading was higher than the overall state average (including public and charter schools):
- 84 percent of KIPP DC: AIM Academy students scored at or above proficient in mathematics.
- 66 percent of KIPP DC: AIM Academy students scored at or above proficient in reading.
- From 2008 to 2009, AIM special education students’ mathematics scores rose by 30 percentage points.
Additional information on KIPP DC: AIM Academy’s DC CAS data:
School Quality Graph from FocusDC
2008–09 KIPP DC: AIM Academy Student Demographics
- Number of students served: 321
- Grade levels: 5–8
- Race/ethnicity: 100 percent African American
- English-language learners: None
- Special education: 12 percent
- Eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunches: 93 percent
KIPP DC: AIM ACADEMY
Formal and Informal Evaluations are Vital to Teacher Growth
“KIPP DC: AIM Academy works to break the cycle of poverty by providing college access to all its students while also engaging parents and the community to ensure that the zip code into which a child is born does not determine his or her opportunity in life.”
—A KIPP DC: AIM Academy Core Value
KIPP DC: AIM Academy, a District of Columbia (DC) Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) public charter school established in 2005, offers 321 fifth through eighth grade students a challenging academic education with the goal of preparing them for college success. Students living in Wards 7 and 8—the areas from which the school draws—have only a one in three chance of graduating from high school and a one in twenty chance of graduating from college.1 These wards also have the highest poverty rates in the city.
Fight For Children believes others can learn from teacher evaluation practices at KIPP DC: AIM Academy because they are an integral part of teacher growth and because teacher evaluation is being examined at the national and local levels as a key element of school reform. KIPP DC: AIM Academy staff views formal and informal evaluation as vital to teacher growth. Informal evaluation occurs frequently and formal evaluation twice yearly. All evaluations include a healthy mix of coaching and problem-solving. Evaluation is an integral part of job-embedded professional development that includes frequent observation with meaningful follow-up and targeted support.
KIPP DC: AIM Academy school leaders (the principal and two vice principals) take a deliberate and thoughtful approach to informal and formal teacher evaluation. One teacher commented that when school leaders observe her, “it is not to look for what is wrong…but what is working and what supports you need.” An AIM school leader asserts that they pursue a “constant cycle of feedback and evaluation.”
At KIPP DC: AIM Academy:
- informal teacher evaluation is routine
- formal evaluation draws from the informal.
1 Data drawn from KIPP DC: AIM Academy’s 2010 Quality Schools Initiative application.
KIPP DC: AIM Academy’s work on teacher evaluation is just one of many practices they employ to make their students successful. Other promising practices include:
- Staff aligns curriculum with content standards. KIPP emphasizes teacher leadership; each teacher is the instructional leader in her or his own classroom. Working with a coach and colleagues, teachers create curricular maps and design lessons for differentiated instruction. School leaders review teachers’ lesson plans each week and meet with them to discuss the plans from the standpoint of student learning objectives.
- Teachers use data to differentiate instruction for students. The AIM teachers learn to do this through intensive professional development and quarterly half-day data conferences. Students are grouped based on assessment data, and teachers work for an hour each day with groups to ensure material mastery. All students, including those in special education, are on a college preparatory track by the eighth grade.
- School leaders and teachers meet regularly. All staff review class and individual student learning goals and targets to determine if they are being met. At the end of the school year, teachers’ contracts are tied to the performance of student achievement data, benchmark assessments, grades, and ongoing classroom observations of teaching and learning.