Friday, October 14, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
In the 10.11 school year, Rocketship Education, the nation’s leading network of K-5 hybrid charter schools, achieved an overall score of 868 on the 2011 Academic Performance Index (API) growth score. We are pleased with this result; however, we are still far from satisfied and realize that there is still a need for substantial progress for ourselves, our schools, and our network.
At Rocketship, we recognize that state exams are imperfect assessments. Yet, we also deeply believe that they are important indicators of our students’ readiness for college and strong indicators of how our schools are preparing our Rocketeers to be successful in middle school and beyond. Consequently, we take them very seriously, and we eagerly await the release of our scores each year.
In 10.11, Rocketship Mateo Sheedy Elementary, Sí Se Puede and Los Sueños Academy, continued to perform at a high level and remain within the top 10 schools serving low-income students in Santa Clara County:
o Rocketship Mateo Sheedy Elementary - API of 892
o Si Se Puede – API of 859
o Los Sueños Academy – API of 839
Moreover, our newest school, Rocketship Los Sueños Academy, which opened last fall, is one of the highest-performing first-year schools in California serving low-income students.
We are very proud of the accomplishments of our schools, teachers, families, and Rocketeers. These results are a testament to the dedication and talent of the staff of Rocketship Education and we are fortunate to be surrounded by such incredible teachers on a daily basis.
Yet, within Rocketship Education, we are very public in our explicit commitment to eliminating the achievement gap within our lifetimes. This is not a simple task and it requires all of us, especially Rocketship, to be unflinchingly honest in the assessment of ourselves and our work each year.
In this evaluation and assessment, it is thus incredibly important for Rocketship to reflect on the reality that two of our campuses declined in API. Moreover, we no longer have a school above the 900 API mark, which is a disappointing reality. Consequently, we are investigating the causes and discovering important issues to focus on. As we grow, our reliance on interim assessments that are aligned and predictive of end of year results also grows and we are seeing some gaps to close in the power of our assessments to point to the right focus areas throughout the year. In addition, we are seeing higher rates of advanced students in Math as compared to ELA which requires us to look closely at our instruction in both classroom and learning lab so that we are best serving all of our students including our significant ELL population.
Finally, these results remind us that while 800 is an important milestone, breaking 900 as a school is all about pushing more of our students to “advanced”— “proficient” is not good enough in the long haul. Helping our students achieve advanced levels of mastery requires huge efforts from our teachers and school staff. Our staff remains as committed as ever to attaining consistently these high levels of achievement so that we are not merely closing or narrowing, but rather eliminating the achievement gap between our schools and schools in more affluent communities.
The 10.11 school year was overall a successful year for Rocketship schools, families and Rocketeers. However, there is still a tremendous amount of work to still be accomplished by ourselves in this work and still much for us to learn if we are to ensure college readiness for all Rocketeers. I am confident that we will continue on this path of constant improvement and work to figure out how to consistently eliminate the achievement gap within our schools and communities and expect to see great results in the 11.12 school year. I am even more confident in this as each day I look around and am surrounded by an unbelievable team of committed, talented individuals who are thoroughly dedicated to our mission of eliminating the achievement gap within our lifetimes.
Congrats on a successful 10.11 school year Rocketeers, but we are still not satisfied at Rocketship as we know that this is still not good enough for our Rocketeers if we are going to ensure true college readiness. In 11.12 we look forward to continuing to learn, innovate, improve, and demonstrate that all students can achieve at extremely high levels, regardless of any circumstances.
I am excited for the 11.12 school year Rocketeers!!
Friday, August 5, 2011
For the past twenty to thirty years, the act and the art of teaching has become increasingly more complex and difficult. The difficulty of the profession and the effects on teacher sustainability are becoming even clearer. Recent studies have indicated that on average, 46% of teachers leave the profession within five years. This is a rate of attrition that is much higher than any other profession and far ahead of the national average. Moreover, as Joel Rose, former Founder and Executive Director of School of One, often reminds us, over 40% of teachers often feel ‘disheartened’ at this point in their career as well. A disheartened teacher is far from where many of these individuals began their career with their idealistic beliefs in students, learning, and deep excitement and investment in kids and families.
It is time for all of us to revisit this school model, especially for teachers. How can we begin to elevate the profession, elevate the possibilities of sustainability, elevate the ability of teachers to realize excellent levels of student achievement with all students, and lastly, eliminate any disheartened teachers within our schools?
At Rocketship, we believe that this is possible and act upon it daily. We are consumed with the question of how to elevate the profession of teaching and fully invest in and empower the incredible talent that is at the foundation of Rocketship. Moreover, as I have participated in the first week of our month long professional development with teachers prior to the start of the 11.12 school year, I am reminded on a daily basis of the incredible talent that is in the room. With this extraordinary talent base within our network, it is critical that we ensure that we are investing and focusing on revisiting the profession in a manner that ensures that these unbelievable people and teachers are invested in, fulfilled, and remain active participants in education.
At Rocketship, in order to make this happen, we believe a school must ‘deconstruct’ the act of teaching. What is it that teachers do each day that is the best and most important use of their talent? What is it that they, and only they, can do?
At Rocketship, we are focusing on this work and attempting to elevate the role of the teacher in a manner that also proclaims the immense value and worth of each and every teacher, and each and every minute of their day and work. This takes effect in Rocketship leveraging the hybrid model to help teach students with basic skills. At Rocketship, a teacher is not solely tasked with closing the basic skills gap, but is able to leverage online curricula in this work—(http://venturebeat.com/2011/08/01/dreambox-aces-test-study-shows-edutainment-program-boosts-exam-scores/). Moreover, teachers at Rocketship are supported by a robust Response to Intervention program, which means that Rocketship teachers are not tasked with teaching and then tutoring and interventions after-school as well. Rocketship is actively working to move different components of the day out of the classroom and not task a teacher with this work. As components of the classroom like assessments and independent practice are moved beyond the classroom, as online curricula supports teachers and teaches basic skills, then teachers are again able to focus more time on critical thinking and depth in the art of teaching—something only teachers can do.
At Rocketship, we are also focused on revisiting the act of supporting teachers, coaching teachers, developing teachers in their art of teaching, and investing in teachers as leaders (http://schoolleaderstoolbox.org/toolkit/explore/introduction). This occurs in weekly one to one coaching meetings with school leaders, an Academic Dean regularly working with teachers and investing in their work, and various other means. Likewise, teachers are paid a higher salary and are eligible for a merit based bonus. Yet, even now we do not believe this is enough and we are currently revisiting our professional development and coaching model, while also revisiting our compensation model and working to compensate teachers in a manner that truly honors the profession and work.
Teaching is still an incredibly personal act, an act and an art that requires talented individuals to lead, invest in, and personally connect with students—the future leaders of our world. Consequently, with over 13,000,000 students still suffering under the achievement gap, it is incredibly important that we figure out how to truly invest in teachers, transform the profession, and consequently, transform the outcomes for students. Eliminating the achievement gap will require thousands of unbelievable teachers, teachers that are transformed and empowered like doctors, teachers that are ‘heartened’ and passionate about their work, while also being deeply invested in and rewarded. At Rocketship, we are committed to this path and work and have already accomplished a great deal. Yet, we know that more can be realized and as an organization we are committed to continuing to work to honor our talented teachers by diligently focusing on the transformation of the profession and art of teaching.