Making a Case for Character; An Investigation into Knowledge Is Power Program Character Education Selection03/11/2015
Since 1994, the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) has expanded rapidly as one the newest cutting edge charter schools with the goal to have its students, who are primarily minority, low income middle school students, complete college. The results and their methods have earned the school both enthusiastic supporters and staunch critics. Character education is seen as critical to KIPP. A large component of KIPP is a character education program that focuses on instilling its students with seven character traits. KIPP states that their program is grounded in Dr. Seligman and Dr. Peterson’s work who are the fathers of positive psychology.
Of twenty four traits in Seligman and Peterson’s work, KIPP selected six of its seven traits directly from Seligman and Peterson for their program. There is a lack of research into KIPP’s program, hence, my analysis explores Seligman and Peterson’s and KIPP’s definition of the selected traits and what KIPP’s decisions suggest about their approach to character education. In this process, it became clear that while there is agreement on quantity and how traits can be beneficial, KIPP’s desire to measure traits has caused some nuances in Dr. Seligman and Dr. Petersen work to become lost. This may undermine KIPP's effectiveness. A previous study showed that there was no change in seven of eight measures of engagement of KIPP students. Given KIPP’s rapid expansion, there is a need for more serious independent research to help understand the ramifications of KIPP’s character education program.