In 2006, Rocketship Education was founded as a non-profit group of public elementary charter schools for low-income communities. Its instructional model is based on a technology supported, teacher-led approach. The schools teaches parents to become big supporters of their children throughout their education. Rocketship seeks to end the achievement gap in the modern day.
NPR published a blog criticizing Rocketship Education. Preston Smith, the co-founder and CEO, responded to the piece. Most of the Rocketship sources used said their words were misrepresented. The blogger never visited one of the schools before criticizing Rocketship’s success. 90 percent of the students returned this year without being forced to. During the reauthorization hearing, more than 250 parents demanded the that their school remain open for five more years. 72 percent of the parents surveyed recommended another family go to Rocketship.
The NPR blog doubts the validity of the schools’ test results. The state assessments cannot be reissued without the Department of Education authorizing it. Only 6 out of 4,565 students in California were allowed to retake one of these tests. Out of 12,695 NWEA MAP tests, there were only 16 retake requests. The NPR blogger used four emails containing retake requests to justify there being too many retakes. However, none of those requests were approved. An SRI International study showed that Rocketship’s students outperform their peers when they go to middle school.
The schools were criticized for a lack of bathroom break policies, but the teachers create personalized policies that work best in their classrooms. Rocketship’s quiet time, Zone Zero, was also criticized. There are times during the day set aside for kids to sing, dance, and play.
The blog said the students were spending 80 minutes a day using online learning programs, while Dreambox recommends students only spend 30-45 minutes per week using it. The blogger failed to mention that the 80 minutes are spent on five different learning programs, and in total, students are only spending 44 minutes each week on Dreambox. More than 8,000 parents send their kids to Rocketship, while there are over 1,000 on waiting lists.