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Rocketship’s Personalized Learning Pilots for 2015 – 16

To eliminate the achievement gap in our lifetime, Rocketship continues to rethink what elementary schools could look and feel like. We continue to innovate and further personalize the learning experience for our Rocketeers, whether it’s whole-class instruction or individualized lessons using technology. Over the last eight years, our approach has evolved and this year is no different. Rocketship’s personalized learning team will pilot a number of programs to further refine our approach to meet the unique needs of each student. Our scientifically designed pilots will range from small ones testing specific areas to larger ones exploring large questions and critical ideas. Below, I describe a few of the primary pilots we’re planning. Though we’re still in the development stages, we’re excited to share our vision for what personalized learning can become at our schools.

Driving towards increased data-driven personalized learning paths

Small Group Tutoring Rocketship EducationThus far, our rotational model has been extremely successful. Students move with their cohort between an integrated math teacher, humanities teacher and tutors (individualized learning specialist), gaining deep conceptual development with teachers and individualized practice and support from our talented specialists. Our teachers and tutors continue to hone their content expertise and thus deliver stronger lessons to our Rocketeers. The next step is optimizing collaboration between teachers and tutors to be more strategic and better leverage the potential of our online learning programs.

Vision: In addition to engaging in whole group classroom activities led by teachers to build conceptual understanding, students will work through targeted personalized paths that address their individual needs. Using goals based on online program and assessment data, teachers will support each student’s needs by assigning students a variety of independent lessons that facilitate exposure, processing of content and application of academic skills. These personalized paths will complement the self-directed learning that students already engage in within our learning labs, allowing teachers to pull performance from other online learning programs to determine their classroom instruction.

Desired Outcomes: Through this increased focus on personalization, each student will receive the individual supports they need to make even more significant growth. Teachers will worry less about pulling small groups to differentiate for all levels of students, using more time to efficiently leverage student data and create effective personalized paths. No matter the part of the day, students will experience a highly personalized education, receiving support in our learning labs and classrooms based on their individual needs.

Leveraging 1:1 devices to personalize homework

1 to 1 deviceTo improve both the investment and benefits of homework, we want to explore 1:1 devices and online learning programs as homework. Leveraging the high engagement of online learning programs along with immediate feedback loops for both students and parents can further personalized practice at home. 

Vision: Rocketeers will be given a personal device with which they can intentionally engage throughout their entire day. In classrooms, students will utilize the technology to improve their personalized learning experience, working on targeted online practice that builds onto their daily lessons. At home students would gain exposure and reinforcement to skills through working on self-paced learning programs. These online activities would constantly adapt to student levels, giving students the appropriate rigor of practice and acting as a purposeful, informative tool for teachers to gauge student learning.

Desired Outcomes: By replacing homework worksheets with adaptive online programs, students will work on skills perfectly tailored to their level, thus excelling in their academic goals at a much faster rate. Additionally, teachers will spend less time creating packets and more time analyzing data from online programs. Beyond homework, teachers will also have the option to pull from the vast set of online learning resources to enhance their classroom instruction.

Faster data cycles and improved intervention

work together Rocketship EducationThroughout our schools, we have teams of adults developing and executing strategic systems for intervention. Keeping track of the various needs of each student and giving the right forms of interventions to support learners in the right way can be a challenge. We aim to streamline systems for progress monitoring students and rapidly provide the most effective form on intervention.

Vision: Tutors in our Learning Labs will have constant access to up-to-date data, both from assessments and online learning programs. Through a consolidated database of student academic performance data, tutors can quickly determine which interventions to provide, either in small group instruction or 1:1 coaching, giving individual students the exact personalized support they need to excel. Through the targeted approach in our RTI program as well as ongoing team collaboration across a grade level, students receiving interventions will exit the RTI program within the school year, having filled any gaps in skills that previously held them back.  

Desired Outcomes: Through implementing strategic systems for intervention support, students who need remediation will receive targeted interventions in a timely manner, filling in content gaps and allowing them to access the content they need to excel. Teachers, tutors, parents and students will constantly have an up-to-date understanding of each student’s needs, in turn knowing how to respond accordingly.


With both our students and our staff members, we believe in striving to embody several core characteristics, including innovation and excellence. In our everyday work, and definitely in our efforts to personalize learning for students, we will continue evolving our approach to providing an excellent education for all students.

Updates about each pilot will be shared throughout the year. Share any thoughts or questions about the pilots in comment section below! 


Stephen is a part of Rocketship’s Achievement Team, overseeing the implementation of online learning and driving the personalized learning initiatives throughout the network. Previously, Stephen was a 5th grade Integrated Math teacher at Sí Se Puede Academy, where he first began his work leveraging blended learning strategies to improve outcomes for all students. Stephen grew up in Southern California and attended the University of California, Los Angeles where he studied biophysics. After graduating, he joined Teach for America and began his career at Rocketship. Stephen now lives in San Francisco and enjoys discussing all things technology, trying all types of foods, traveling and spending time outdoors with friends.

Follow Stephen on Twitter: @stephenqpham

Published on September 21, 2015

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