“Recovery will entail a multi-pronged, multi-year strategy, said Danny Echeverry, principal of Rocketship Spark Academy in San Jose. It started with using its community schools funding to hire a Care Corps worker, akin to a social worker, at each site to help families who experienced housing and food insecurity during Covid. “We’ve seen ourselves as a hub of connecting at-risk families with social services in the community,” he said. Chronic absenteeism fell 10 percentage points, and attendance increased 7 percentage points in 2022-23.
Students in kindergarten, first grade, or second grade during the pandemic had foundational skill gaps that had to be filled before students could handle grade-level content and move to proficiency on state tests, Etcheverry said. The Rocketship model builds in flex time so that teachers can provide one-on-one interventions.
Scores increased 2 percentage points overall in math on the 2023 math test, with variations among schools from a decline of 7.4 percentage points to a gain of 15.8 percentage points. Rocketship Los Surenos, which piloted the Eureka Math curriculum, gained 5.4% in 2023, leading to a decision to adopt it in all Bay Area schools.
“I’m proud of the work that we’ve done to support our parent community. We’re building traction, and we have no reason to believe that we’re not going to continue that momentum and see greater gains this year,” Etcheverry said.”