Its founder and current President Preston Smith have been with the school for ten years, with August of 2017 marking its tenth anniversary. San Jose was home to Rocketship Education’s first year of classes in 2007, with the disadvantaged area it was in having a high number of illegal immigrant parents, guardians, and relatives. As such, it set up safe zones at all its schools for them – mostly from Mexico – not to get arrested by law enforcement.
There are several other innovative ways Rocketship Education succeeds among its peers, including integrating parents into interviews and teacher reviews. Parents are sometimes trained to conduct interviews in panels of 3 to 6 parents, including one or more administrators. They also meet in convention style at banquets and other events, allowing all interested parents to select from all potential hires. Weighing parents’ opinions turns out well, plus gets them more involved with students’ responsibilities and keeping up with the curriculum.
Rocketship Education, just like most other schools at the K-5 level, utilizes whole group instruction prior to any individualized lessons. Following lectures, students branch off into small groups and get help from tutors, teachers, and peers. Using tablets and laptops, students get help on their weaknesses, a part of students’ days that they wouldn’t experience at other public schools.
Between kindergarten and fifth grade, Rocketship Education’s students take three different classes and individualized educational lessons each day. Most students don’t switch classes this early and have so much expected of them.
Other schools might also segregate students with developmental disabilities and special needs from regular classroom settings, although Smith’s eighteen locations aim to keep them in general-purpose environments up to eighty percent of daily activities.
Families that don’t have high incomes often have lower chances of having future generations succeed. Preston Smith realized this when he began his teaching career in San Jose in 2001. He worked at Arbuckle Elementary School and was a first grad team leader. After three years’ worth of teaching at the San Jose-based school, he helped found a charter school called the LUCHA Elementary school. Its test scores rose significantly in its first few years of operation, rising from 753 to 881.