RocketShip Education Shares its Lessons

Source: PBS, Dec 2012

Rocketship’s seven schools are among the top-performing low-income schools in California. Once open, they operate entirely with public funding.

… it all starts with high expectations.

JUDY LAVI, teacher, Rocketship Mosaic Elementary: I have someone in my classroom almost every single day, sometimes every other day, giving me feedback and just holding me accountable to high-quality instruction.

Rocketship teachers typically make at least 15 percent more, thanks to this part of the model. It’s the linchpin that makes Danner’s financial model tick: the learning lab.

Every school has a room like this, lots of computers and kids, but no classroom teachers. Learning labs are staffed with hourly employees called individualized learning specialists, who lack teaching credentials.

MELANIE HANG, individualized learning specialist, Rocketship Mosaic Elementary: Yes, I have five classes that I coach. So that’s probably about 150 students.

JOHN MERROW: For about one hour every day, students practice math and literacy skills. They work independently at their own pace. The computer is able to track and guide the progress of each student.

It’s something educators call differentiated learning. Some students work on basic skills, while others advance to more challenging lessons.

The learning lab allows a school to hire six fewer teachers, which Rocketship says results in savings of up to half a million dollars. That money is used to pay teachers higher salaries, fund academic deans who help teachers get better, and train principals for future Rocketship schools.

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