Houston public schools are testing whether techniques proven successful in high-performing urban charters like those in KIPP can also help raise achievement in regular public schools. Working with Roland G. Fryer, a researcher at Harvard who studies the racial achievement gap, Houston officials last year embraced five key tenets of charters at nine district secondary schools; this fall, they are expanding the program to 11 elementary schools. A similar effort is beginning in Denver.
Dr. Fryer identified five policies common to successful charters, including those run by KIPP and the Harlem Children’s Zone: longer days and years; more rigorous and selective hiring of principals and teachers; frequent quizzes whose results determine what needs to be retaught; what he calls “high-dosage tutoring”; and a “no excuses” culture. The experiment, which is known as Apollo 20 and cost $19 million in its first year, has had mixed results.