There’s a lot of talk about redefining America’s education system. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is leading the charge to reduce funding for typical public schools and increase support for what she calls “her charter school system.” Charter schools help all students regardless of social status so they can get a comprehensive education. In Betsy’s home state of Michigan, the advancement of the charter schools is a priority thanks to DeVos and her supporters as well as the millions of dollars invested in the charter school concept. There’s little doubt. DeVos will continue to throw out the old education system and replace it with the charter school model. Investors and parents play a more active role in the charter school education process.
One California-based elementary charter school investment company, Rocketship Education, is making a difference in the schools they control in California, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Washington D.C. According to an article in the Tennessean, Rocketship schools in the Nashville metropolitan area are tracking student progress using the NWEA Measures of Academic Progress or MAP. MAP measures how much a student is learning at a particular grade level. Rather than relying on proficiency scores, which measure a student’s comprehension at a particular grade level, Rocketship schools are measuring a student’s growth level. The growth level measures how much a student is learning over a certain period of time. Rocketship executives say the difference between the two scores is the difference between asking “are we there yet,” and “how far have we gone.” The MAP assessment is available in more than 7,400 schools all over the world.
Measuring student growth is important especially for students who start school at a disadvantage. Kids from low-income or economically challenges families start school behind other students. And some of those Nashville students never catch up, according to the Tennessean article. But the Rocketship schools in Nashville are proving that a child’s zip code doesn’t define a child’s potential. In 2017, 146 Rocketship school students started the year behind their grade level, but they ended the year above their grade level. Based on the data from the MAP system, students grew 1.2 years in reading and 1.35 years in math, and that is just the tip of the success Rocketship students are achieving. Rocketship executives credit the growth to Rocketship teachers, and how those teachers teach.
Rocketship Education wants to be the catalyst that changes how students from low-income communities learn through their sustainable and scalable public school model. The success Rocketship schools in Nashville are having is an example of what all Rocketship schools are experiencing across the country. Rocketship’s model develops competent educators, and the model relies on help from parents so the education process is a joint effort rather than just the government’s half-baked attempt to teach children how to function effectively in the 21st-century. Rocketship public schools rely on authenticity, tenacity, innovation, excellence and community participation to achieve success. And their personalized learning model, as well as their talent development model, unleash the potential in students as well as potential in parents.