Tasnim Anika ’24

KIPP Philadelphia Schools, Philadelphia, PA

This summer, I had the privilege of working with KIPP Philadelphia as a remote academic intern. KIPP is the largest network of public charter schools in the United States, and it aims to provide a college preparatory education for underserved students. As a member of the academic team at the regional office in Philadelphia, I primarily worked alongside the director of mathematics on several projects to better develop the math curricula. During our first meeting, I was asked about what goals I hoped to achieve during the course of the internship, and I was given assignments that were catered toward the objectives I highlighted. For instance, I wished to learn more about CMOs (charter management organizations) such as KIPP and how they differed from state schools. My first project was putting together a competitive analysis presentation in which I presented my research on the similarities and differences between different CMOs nationally and regionally (in Philadelphia). I learned that charter schools are public schools that operate independently from government school districts. Unlike state schools, however, they have more discretion and “ownership” over curriculum development and management. Therefore, a hallmark of charter schools is that they have more flexibility in designing their classes and choosing how to structure the school day; and this makes them more attractive to some teachers and students.

Since charter school curricula are often more flexible than those of state schools, it’s safe to assume that teachers would have a say in curriculum development. At KIPP Philadelphia, this assumption holds true, as one of my projects involved interviewing the math teachers at some of the KIPP West Philadelphia schools. This was an incredibly insightful experience not only for me but also for the academics team. For example, many teachers wished to see culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP) to be implemented more often in the curriculum and had many suggestions based on the strategies they were already employing in the classroom (focus on group work, after school support and an “improvement-based” system). They also mentioned that there were certain places in which students couldn’t keep up with the fast-paced curriculum. Their concerns primarily inspired my final major project, which involved a substantial amount of data analysis. From this, I identified which standards (or topics) students tended to underperform in, and the ones that they excelled at. These results will be used to develop the curriculum for the 2022-2023 school year, which will place an extra emphasis on standards that need improvement.

While I did have prior experience tutoring students, I felt that I severely lacked in “teaching.” This internship with KIPP has made me more confident in potentially pursuing a career in education, since working on curriculum development and growth analysis this summer helped me fill some of the gaps in my skill set. I want to thank Jeffrey Hines ’77 and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for making this opportunity accessible to me. Your support throughout the entire process has been tremendously invaluable.