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Part of KIPP's success is attained through the setting of high expectations. The school day starts at 7 a.m. and doesn't end until 5 p.m. Students are assigned at least three hours of homework every night. There are also Saturday half-days and mandatory summer school.

So why are the students so eager to enroll? After just a few minutes in a KIPP classroom—with students using songs to learn subjects like state capitals and multiplication tables—Anderson says it's obvious that this school isn't like any others. "The KIPP style of teaching sets facts and figures to music," he says. "The three R's here are repetition, rhythm and rap."

That's a big part of the KIPP philosophy. "We felt like we could make learning fun and we could get kids to come to school and they would not want to go home," Dave says.

Mike and Dave say they got the idea for this style of learning from a teacher named Harriett Ball whom they met in an inner city public school. "Harriet Ball was kind of like a rock star of teaching in the elementary school I was in," Dave says. "She came into my room and in one day—in 45 minutes—taught what I had failed to teach in three months."

How quickly do the students take to this new approach to learning? "By lunchtime on Day One," Mike says.
FROM: Oprah's Special Report: American Schools in Crisis
Published on April 12, 2006


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