Rice working with KIPP to better prepare students for college success

Rice University is partnering with the KIPP Foundation and KIPP Houston Public Schools to improve college completion rates for underserved KIPP students in Houston and around the nation.

The goal is to better prepare KIPP students from low-income families who are often first-generation college students for the challenges of higher education. The partnership also will provide experiential education and research opportunities at KIPP schools for Rice undergraduate students in their roles as teachers and mentors.

“Rice has a long history of admitting first-generation college students, and we hope this new partnership with KIPP will help such students finish their higher education and pursue careers related to their college degrees,” said Rice Provost George McLendon. “At the same time, this partnership will enhance Rice’s teacher preparation programs and complement our ongoing efforts to improve K-12 education in Houston, in Texas and the nation.”

Some of the students who attended Rice's Schlumberger Computer Engineering Design Academy for Middle School Girls recently were from KIPP schools. Rice's partnership with the KIPP Foundation and KIPP Houston Public Schools will help prepare students for the challenges of college. (Photo by Wendi Schoffstall-Nunez, program coordinator for Rice's School Science and Technology program)

KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) is a national network of free, open-enrollment college-preparatory public schools that are dedicated to preparing students in underserved communities for success in college and in life. The program, which originated in Houston, emphasizes academics and character development through longer school days and more attention to homework and parental involvement.

“This partnership between KIPP and Rice University is a crucial step in getting our KIPPsters to and through college,” said Mike Feinberg, co-founder of KIPP. “We have been collaborating with Rice for a long time, and their president, David Leebron, is a major supporter of ours. Turning that relationship into a formal partnership means our students will have even more opportunities to earn that bachelor’s degree, which opens doors of opportunity for them throughout their lives.”

Rice’s partnership with KIPP will involve multiple parts of the university.

Carolyn Nichol, director of Rice’s School Science and Technology program, said SST will work with KIPP students and faculty “to demystify the many pathways to college and to increase not just college readiness, but college and postcollege success.” She noted that SST staff will coordinate faculty and student workshops, student tours and other events to support KIPP students.

“The real reason that Rice is a great place for KIPP students to learn about college is because Rice students are such great mentors,” Nichol said. “Partnering KIPP students with Rice students is a winning combination. KIPP students will learn from enthusiastic, young role models about college success, while Rice students will learn valuable leadership skills.”

The Teacher Education program and Center for College Readiness at Rice’s Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies will work closely with KIPP teachers and leadership.

“Through our Master of Arts in Teaching program for pre-service teachers, we envision multiple opportunities for getting Rice undergraduate and graduate students out into KIPP schools for field observations,” said Jennifer Gigliotti, executive director of the Center for College Readiness and associate dean of the Glasscock School. “We also welcome the opportunity to provide professional development for KIPP teachers.” The new Master of Arts in Teaching for experienced teachers will admit its inaugural cohort in summer 2014.

Rice Digital Learning and Scholarship (RDLS) also plays a role in the university’s partnership with KIPP. STEMscopes, a K-12 science curriculum based at Rice, is used in more than 10 KIPP elementary and middle schools around the country, and KIPP plans to use the STEMscopes biology curriculum for all of its high school students this year. “STEMscopes is a curriculum that has strong ties to KIPP and has been used for several years to increase the science teaching and learning of both the teachers and the students,” said Reid Whitaker, founding director of STEMscopes and executive director of RDLS.

The partnership will provide opportunities for the leadership and staff of both Rice and KIPP to meet and create strategies to address the challenges of colleges that underserved students face, and to refine the curriculum and teaching at KIPP Houston to offer students the knowledge and skills required to be successful at Rice and other top universities.

Tamara Siler ’87, senior associate director and coordinator of minority recruitment, said Rice’s Office of Admission will promote Rice University to students at KIPP Houston Public Schools. “This agreement provides strong avenues to encourage qualified students to consider Rice as their destination for college,” she said.

In reference to a recent study showing that KIPP middle schools across the U.S. have positive and statistically significant impacts on student achievement across all years and all subject areas examined, Rice Associate Vice Provost Matt Taylor ’89 said, “Both KIPP and Rice University have national footprints. Our mutual interests and this new partnership should benefit not just students in Houston, but across the country.”



About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.