Rocketship Nashville Northeast Achieves Fastest Academic Gains in Metro, Earns Tennessee’s Highest Honor
By James Robinson, Director of Schools - Rocketship Nashville
All Rocketship schools strive for large academic gains each year because we know it’s the only way historically underserved communities catch up with their national peers. And last year, Rocketship Nashville Northeast led the way in proving what is possible for all kids by achieving incredible academic growth.
Rocketship Nashville Northeast earned the highest honor in their state – being recognized as a “Reward School” by the State of Tennessee. Nashville Northeast earned this honor by increasing the success rate of its mostly low-income students at a faster rate than any other elementary school in Nashville during the 2018-19 school year. Nashville Northeast increased the percentage of students who scored “on track” or “mastered” on annual state tests—also known as the student success rate—at a pace more than three times greater than the rate of improvement seen across Metro Nashville Public Schools.
And Rocketship Nashville Northeast is serving all students with excellence, earning even more dramatic results for economically disadvantaged students. These Rocketeers grew their success rate by 21 percentage points from the previous year, which is seven times the rate of improvement seen among similar students in Nashville. In comparison, the Nashville school district overall had an increase of three percentage points in its success rate for low-income students. Out of 415 students enrolled at at Nashville Northeast, more than 93% are classified as economically disadvantaged.
The percentage of students at Nashville Northeast who are meeting or exceeding the state’s academic standards is now nearly double the percentage in the Maplewood Cluster, which is the geographic zone where the school is located within the district. The school leaders at Nashville Northeast credit the dramatic academic gains to school changes aimed at better supporting students of color and at-risk students.
“Our staff is now 75% teachers of color, which better reflects our student population,” Principal Jermaine Gassaway said. “We know from research that academic performance increases, especially for black boys, when they have teachers who look like them, and our school is showing that to be true. We’ve also added several different layers of support for Rocketeers who are struggling with behavior or emotional issues or whose families face challenges at home. Those changes combined with Rocketship’s commitment to individualized learning plans for all students is helping us prove that all students have tremendous potential.”
Although many students come to Nashville Northeast behind where they should be, our focus on student growth means that Rocketeers on average gain more than one year’s worth of learning during the school year. Last year, our Rocketeers at Nashville Northeast gained 1.7 years in reading and 1.8 years in math. As a result, Nashville Northeast has consistently received the highest possible growth score—a Level 5—on the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System (TVAAS) every year that state growth data has been available.
This year, Nashville Northeast is among only 20 of the local district’s 139 Title 1 schools (schools serving predominantly low-income students) to be named a “Reward School”. The Reward School list is based on proficiency and growth demonstrated through the annual TNReady assessment, as well as rates of chronic absenteeism.
Both Rocketship schools in Nashville have now had the honor of receiving Reward School designation under Tennessee’s new and more rigorous academic standards. United Academy, located in South Nashville, appeared on last year’s list.
Congratulations Rocketship Nashville Northeast!
Prior to becoming the Director of Schools for Rocketship Nashville and Milwaukee, James Robinson founded Rocketship United Academy in Nashville in 2015. Under his leadership, Rocketship United consistently made double-digit leaps in proficiency on the Nationally Normed NWEA MAP Assessment. Before serving as a Founding Principal in Nashville, James was an Assistant Principal at Rocketship Mosaic in San Jose, California. Before joining Rocketship, Mr. Robinson was selected for the CSP Leadership Fellowship in Minneapolis, MN. As a Leadership Fellow, James designed a school, conducted market research to identify a neighborhood to build a school and also consulted for the Harvest Network of Schools. Prior to being a fellow, James was a founding teacher at Uncommon Schools Rochester Prep.
Published on August 29, 2019