Rocketeers Make Strong Gains on California State Test
by Preston Smith, Co-Founder and CEO, Rocketship Public Schools
Four years ago, California launched a new state assessment aligned to Common Core State Standards. And for the fourth year in a row, our Rocketeers made strong gains in both math and English Language Arts (ELA).
In math, 57% of our Rocketeers met or exceeded state standards compared to the state average of 42%. Among students classified as socioeconomically disadvantaged, 55% of our Rocketeers are on the college and career ready path – 13 points higher than the state average for all students and 25 points higher than the state average for disadvantaged students (30%).
In English Language Arts, 49% of our Rocketeers met or exceeded standards – up 14 points over the last four years. We now match the state average for all students. Among disadvantaged students, 46% of our Rocketeers are on track compared to 37% across the state.
Once again, Rocketship ranks in the top 10% of all California elementary school districts and charter schools who serve a population of predominantly disadvantaged students.Rocketship Outperforms All Local Districts
Our Bay Area schools served students in five different school districts last year. In math, our Rocketeers outperformed every district we serve by at least 10 percentage points. When comparing students classified as disadvantaged, the gap between our Rocketeers and local districts grows to more than 20 points. In ELA, our Rocketeers are ahead of students in districts with similar student populations, but are a bit behind students in more affluent districts. However, among disadvantaged students, our Rocketeers outpace all local districts in ELA by 10 points or more.A Bright Spot for English Learners
Students classified as English Learners (ELs) in California continue to score far below other subgroups. By and large, California schools have struggled to realize meaningful progress with ELs over the last several years.
Not at Rocketship. Our English Learners improved seven percentage points in both subjects on the 2017-18 assessment. In math, 41% of Rocketship ELs met or exceeded state standards – surpassing the state average by 24 points. In ELA, 29% of our ELs are on track – outpacing the state by 13 points.
A majority of our Rocketeers are classified as ELs. And while ELs at Rocketship have consistently outperformed the state and local districts, all of us in California need to push harder to narrow the achievement gap between ELs and their language proficient peers.
Narrowing Achievement Gaps
Since opening our first school twelve years ago, we have relentlessly focused on eliminating the gap that separates disadvantaged students from their more privileged peers. 84% of Rocketship Bay Area students are classified as disadvantaged. We pay close attention to how our disadvantaged students perform against both similar students and non-disadvantaged students across the state, in the districts we serve, and within our own schools.
In math, there is a 33 point gap separating disadvantaged students from their non-disadvantaged peers across California. The gap between disadvantaged students at Rocketship and their more privileged peers across the state shrinks to just 8 points.
In ELA, the statewide gap is 32 points. The gap narrows to 23 points when comparing disadvantaged students at Rocketship to non-disadvantaged students across California.
Our internal achievement gaps in both math and ELA (14 points and 17 points, respectively) are half of the size of the state’s gaps. We also have the smallest achievement gaps in both subjects in every district where we operate in every year since California launched its Common Core aligned assessment.We are proud of the extraordinary progress our Rocketeers continue to make but we must keep pushing for better. There are still too many students in our schools and across the state who have not yet achieved the state’s rigorous new standards. We have to push harder and work smarter, and we will. But the progress we are making year after year gives me great confidence that we will continue to reach higher and get even more of our Rocketeers on the college-ready path.
Preston Smith co-founded Rocketship Public Schools in 2006. He has held numerous roles at Rocketship, including teacher, principal, Director of Schools, Chief Achievement Officer, and Chief Schools Officer. In 2013, Preston was named CEO. Prior to founding Rocketship, Preston was founder and Principal of LUCHA Elementary School, part of the Alum Rock Unified School District in San Jose, CA. After its first three years of operation, LUCHA was the fourth highest performing low-income elementary school in California. Preston began his career in education as a Teaching for America (TFA) Corps member at Clyde Arbuckle Elementary School (CA). In 2003, Preston was named “Teacher of the Year” at Arbuckle and was nominated as one of six finalists for TFA’s Sue Lehmann award, given to TFA corps members with the highest academic classroom gains in the nation. Preston is also an Aspen New Schools Fellow. He lives in San Jose with his wife and two children who attend Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep.
Published on October 23, 2018