Rocketship Earns Record High Score in DC Rating
by Preston Smith, Co-Founder and CEO, Rocketship Public Schools
Big news! Rocketship Legacy Prep earned the highest score ever for an elementary school on the DC Public Charter School Board’s 2018 School Quality Report. Also known as the Performance Management Framework (PMF), the rating system was first introduced to DC public charter schools eight years ago. Rocketship Legacy Prep, our second school in southeast DC, scored 94.6% – the highest score on record for any school serving pre-K through eighth grade. This places Legacy Prep at the top end of the Tier 1 category.
The DC Public Charter School Board’s (PCSB) annual School Quality Reports measure public charter school performance with a single score between 1 and 100 based on a range of categories including: student progress, student achievement, parent satisfaction, and attendance.
Record-Setting Start For Rocketship Legacy Prep
In the 2017-18 school year, 73% of our Rocketeers at Legacy Prep were classified as “at-risk” and more than 22% were classified as homeless. The extraordinary growth our Rocketeers demonstrated last year is a powerful reminder of the amazing potential of all students. In a single school year, our Rocketeers grew 1.7 years in math and 1.4 years in reading.
Parents clearly see promise in our newest school in DC. Legacy Prep more than quadrupled in size this school year. We now serve over 450 Rocketeers at our beautiful new campus in Ward 7. As one of our founding parents said, “this school provides the chance for all of our kids to build on the past, and to look forward to a brighter future.” That’s why our parents named our school “Legacy Prep.”
Rocketship Legacy Prep is off to a great start. Achieving this record-setting score in its very first year is an important first step and a strong proof point that Rocketship serves all students with excellence. But one good year isn’t good enough for our Rocketeers. If we hope to eliminate the achievement gap that separates our students from their more affluent peers, we need to stack our success year after year.
Serving All Students at Rocketship Rise Academy
Rocketship Rise Academy has quickly established a reputation for serving all students with excellence. 83% of Rise Rocketeers were classified as “at-risk” last school year – more than any other public charter school in all of DC. And 38% of Rise Rocketeers were classified as homeless – nearly four times the 10% average for DC public charter schools.
On the 2018 School Quality Report, Rocketship Rise Academy achieved the third highest score among all tiered public charter schools in DC serving 70% or more “at-risk” students. Our Ward 8 school was just 2.6 points short of achieving Tier 1 status.
Just like Legacy Prep, our Rocketeers at Rise Academy achieved remarkable academic growth last school year – growing 1.4 years in math and 1.3 years in reading. This means our students gained well over one year of academic knowledge during the school year. However, summer learning loss, particularly in reading, is a challenge for our scholars at Rise.
We are proud of the progress our Rise Rocketeers are making but we know we can reach higher. Stemming summer learning loss is a critical component to reaching Tier 1 for Rise. Another major factor is our re-enrollment rate which fell short of PCSB’s goal for all public charter schools. Of course, re-enrollment is especially challenging at Rise with more than 1 in 3 students classified as homeless. We are partnering closely with our families to fully understand their needs and how to keep their Rocketeer at school even if things are unstable at home. No matter their life circumstances, we are committed to serving all students.
With two schools serving over 1,000 students in southeast DC, Rocketship is already making a major impact on the achievement gap in DC. Both our schools are making extraordinary progress. But our work is far from done. There are still too many students in our schools and across the District who aren’t reaching their full potential. And it is our responsibility and our privilege to unleash the amazing potential inside every student and family we serve.
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 November 12, 2018