Rocketship United Earns Top Honor in Tennessee
by James Robinson, Director of Schools in Nashville
Rocketship United Academy has just been named a “Reward School” by the Tennessee Department of Education! This is the state’s highest recognition for student performance and progress. Only 11 of Nashville’s 139 Title 1 schools earned this honor and Rocketship United is the only elementary school in the Glencliff Cluster to be named a Reward School.
To be eligible for “Reward” status, a school in Tennessee must demonstrate overall student academic achievement and student growth for all students and for subgroups of students. This is a new way of measuring success in Tennessee and one we gladly welcome. To see the achievement gap eliminated in our lifetime, we must pay close attention to how our historically underserved subgroups are tracking compared to their non-disadvantaged peers.
The majority of students at Rocketship United are classified as economically disadvantaged students (63%) and students of color (85%). United also serves one of the largest populations of English Language Learners in Metro Schools. Rocketship United received the Reward School designation due in large part to the success of these student subgroups, who have been historically underserved in Tennessee and Metro Nashville.
Last year, students of color at United Academy outperformed the average for all students across Metro Nashville – by nearly 7 points. In addition, more than three times as many English Learners at Rocketship United are on grade level in reading compared to similar students across the district and the state. This is what it looks like to narrow and eventually eliminate the achievement gap.
Our Rocketeers’ remarkable progress is a testament to the strength of our school community. We are demonstrating that all students have the potential to achieve excellence, no matter where they were born or how much money their parents earn.
At Rocketship, we believe in the infinite possibility of student potential. It is our responsibility and our privilege to unleash the potential inside every student we serve. This work is never done, but we are proud to celebrate this major milestone as we continually strive toward our ultimate goal of eliminating the achievement gap in every community we serve.
Prior to becoming the Director of Schools for Rocketship Nashville, 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 September 27, 2018