Rocketship Is Narrowing California’s Achievement Gaps
by Maricela Guerrero, Vice President of Schools
This year marks a major milestone for Rocketship in California – over 50% of our students met or exceeded the state standard for proficiency in both math and English Language Arts (ELA). Neither the state nor any of the six local districts where we serve students have yet to achieve this milestone since Common Core standards were first introduced five years ago. 61% of our California Rocketeers met or exceeded state standards in math and 51% did so in ELA. This marks the fifth straight year of gains at Rocketship. Over the last five years, our Rocketeers have improved 16 percentage points in ELA and 12 points in math.
Our 13 Bay Area schools serve students in six different school districts, and in math, our Rocketeers outperformed every district where we operate by at least 12 percentage 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.
And once again, Rocketship ranks in the top 10% of all California elementary school districts and charter schools who serve a population of predominantly socioeconomically disadvantaged students.
Rocketship Narrows Achievement Gaps in the Golden State
Our mission at Rocketship compels us to serve students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are not currently receiving the quality of education that all kids deserve. Last year, 80% of our California Rocketeers were classified as socioeconomically disadvantaged (SED) and 73% were Hispanic or Latino, both groups that traditionally suffer from large achievement gaps with their wealthier and white peers.
On the 2019 CA state assessment, 48% of socioeconomically disadvantaged (SED) Rocketeers met or exceeded state standards in ELA and 58% did so in math. When comparing students classified as socioeconomically disadvantaged against similar students in districts where we operate, our Rocketeers outpace all local districts and the state by 10 points or more in ELA and 24 points or more in math. In fact, disadvantaged students at every single Rocketship school in California outperform similar students in their local district in math.
To eliminate the achievement gap, we must 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 32 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 6 points.
In ELA, the statewide gap is 32 points. The gap narrows to 22 points when comparing disadvantaged students at Rocketship to non-disadvantaged students across California. Disadvantaged Rocketeers outperform their non-SED peers in Alum Rock, Franklin-McKinley and Antioch Unified School Districts in math.
Our internal achievement gaps in both math and ELA (15 points and 17 points, respectively) are half of the size of the state’s gaps. We also have the smallest achievement gap in math and second smallest in ELA out of every district where we operate.
Hispanic or Latino students make up the majority of K-12 students in California, yet they traditionally do not perform on par with their peers. At Rocketship, Hispanic Rocketeers outperform the state average for all students in math by 11 percentage points and get very close to equaling the state for all students in ELA. Hispanic Rocketeers also outperform Hispanic students in every local district and the state in both subjects (by at least 5 percentage points in ELA and at least 19 percentage points in math).
Rocketship is serving all students with excellence and proving what is possible in public education.
Growing and Achieving Over Five Years of Common Core
Since California adopted the rigorous Common Core standards in the 2014-2015 school year, more and more Rocketeers have met and exceeded these standards. In five years, Rocketeers have improved 16 percentage points in ELA and 12 percentage points in math on CAASPP. Over five years, our socioeconomically disadvantaged Rocketeers have improved 15 percentage points in ELA and 12 percentage points in math. In the 18-19 school year and in each of the five years of the Common Core-aligned exam, Rocketship students outperformed all districts where we operate and the state average in math.
We are so proud of the incredible growth and achievement of all our students, but we did not achieve these results on our own. Our partnership with parents helps to drive our success. The 18-19 school year saw our highest ever rates of home visits by our teachers and top parent engagement in our classrooms. By harnessing the power of parents to partner with teachers, school leaders, and their Rocketeers, we are narrowing the achievement gap and getting our Rocketeers on the path to college.
Maricela Guerrero is the Vice President of Schools. Maricela helps lead Rocketship’s Schools Team, supporting each of our 19 schools across the country and developing school leaders. Prior to her role on the Schools Team, Maricela was the Founding Principal at Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep. In the first year Rocketship Fuerza students grew 1.64 years in ELA and 1.79 years in math in the NWEA test. Furthermore, she organized and led a strong group of parent to lead the Mayoral Forum, and event attended by over 1,200 families. Before founding Fuerza, Maricela was the principal of Rocketship Mateo Sheedy. Under her leadership, students at Rocketship Mateo Sheedy earned a remarkable 925 API. In subsequent years, Maricela has led her staff to continue making incredibly strong gains for the students at Mateo Sheedy. Before ascending into school leadership, Maricela was a founding teacher in the first year of Rocketship. Prior to Rocketship, she was also a founding teacher at L.U.C.H.A., where she taught third and fourth grade. An elementary teacher since 2001, Maricela has taught grades first through eighth grade in the Alum Rock Unified district. She received her B.A. in Latin American Studies with minors in education from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a Master’s Degree in education from the University of Phoenix.
Published on October 16, 2019