Rocketship Education Still Going Strong

Rocketship Education is a chain of non-profit, K-5 college preparatory charter schools based in San Jose, California. From its inception in 2006, Rocketship used a blended education approach to introduce technology into schools in underserved communities. The mission was to help students who were lagging in educational achievements to be able to meet and exceed age appropriate standards. The curriculum is teacher led, flexible, and technology supported, and students receive personalized assignments that are matched to their needs. Parents are engaged in the learning experience and Rocketship garners community and financial support by stressing its positive results.

Though there have been a number of academic gains, results have been inconsistent. Critics have stated that academic achievements have come at the risk of increased pressure on teachers and unreasonable expectations on students. Rocketship Education has responded to negative publicity by explaining that even in down years student performance is still better than other public or charter schools in the California area. The administration also points out that learning is more efficient because projects are personalized and learning is more relevant so students progress more quickly.

The blended learning approach has also led to gains in areas like student self-control, self-discipline, and independent learning. Based on the high level of success, the school planned a major expansion in 2015. Unfortunately, the moves did not go as well as planned and Rocketship had to answer critics once again. They did this by admitting that the lab type experience is difficult to replicate and there is a limited availability of teachers who are trained to teach using the blended method. These facts along with issues with funding and new community support forced the school to scale back its expansion plans.

Rocketship has also been under fire for operating more like a business than a non-profit. In response, the school stressed its community involvement in a number of projects to encourage women to pursue mathematics and science and to support all students in their pursuit of higher education.