As her mother saw it, Sintia Marquez was too smart for her school.
She’d outpaced her school’s ability to keep up with her by fourth grade. So her mother moved Sintia to a new school, a charter called Rocketship Mateo Sheedy Elementary, which focuses on the concept of individualized learning.
What’s different about Rocketship is the school’s focus on allowing students to progress at their own pace. Teachers introduce new concepts in class, and students practice the material they’ve learned in a computer lab, a system called hybrid learning. Rocketship also has a longer school day — from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. — and an intense program to motivate kids, even as young as kindergarten, to think seriously about going to college.
If state assessment scores determine a school’s success — and in this high-stakes testing environment they certainly do — Rocketship’s flagship school qualifies as a winner. For the past two years, the school has scored 925 on the Academic Performance Index (API) — the same score earned by Palo Alto School District, a neighboring community with a much more affluent demographic. It bears noting that, of the 463 students at Rocketship, 91 percent qualify for free or reduced lunch program, and 71 percent are English as Second Language learners.
Rocketship Mateo Sheedy is one of three Rocketship charter schools in the area, but the organization has plans to expand across the state and eventually across the country. They offer open enrollment (not lottery, like many charters) and receive funding from local, state, and federal taxes, as well as from venture capital. Continue reading