In response to a scathing critique that questioned the fundamental pillars of Rocketship Education’s learning model, the network of non-profit schools’ co-founder and current CEO Preston Smith offered deep insight into the school’s operations. In the response, Mr. Smith used evidence from various researches to defend the school’s learning model which incorporated technology in the lessons to achieve learning outcomes. Contrary to blogger Anya Kamenetz’s assertions, the lessons offered by the school are not entirely computer-based. The school has interactive hours where learning takes place unaided by computers. While underscoring the importance of computers in promoting learning, Preston Smith stressed that the school has used an effective classroom and learning management model that ensures balanced learning and holistic growth of learners.
While noting that the NPR blogger went a great length to undermine the well-documented reputation of the school network, Preston Smith pointed out that the high number of parents who have their children enrolled for classes in various Rocketship Education campuses is evidence to the school’s dedication to offering high-quality education. He notes that the parents not only drive hundreds of miles to take their kids to Rocketship Education campuses; they also helped in setting up some of them and readily offer referrals to other parents. He also points to the 90 percent students return rate as further evidence that the model used by the school is effective in achieving learning outcomes. Smith also noted that, contrary to the claims by the blogger, the school’s retest rate was within the normal range of all learning institutions around the country and was not a practice unique to Rocketship.
Pioneer of a New Learning Model
Rocketship Education is a network of charter schools dedicated to unleashing the unique potential of learners. The public schools network primarily targets learners from underserved and low-income communities with their unique learning models that incorporate the use of technology within the traditional teacher-led learning environment. It uses a personalized learning approach that seeks to involve the input of parents as champions of helping the student develop and grow their talents. Since its founding, the network has grown to new locations in California, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin and Tennessee where it has set up campuses with the primary goal of transforming underserved communities in these states.