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Keeping Kids in Class

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by Beyond Editorial Staff

Central to our mission is the belief that all students can achieve, both academically and through upholding our core values as respectful citizens. This belief is put into practice every day in Rocketship classrooms. Some of the most obvious ways in which this is implemented is through our very low suspension rate and our special education inclusion model. We put incredible time and effort into bringing all students into the classroom and supporting them to thrive there.

Rocketship Has Never Expelled a Student

We don’t kick kids out of school. That has been our stance since we opened our first school ten years ago. And while we have grown from a single school serving a couple hundred kids in a church basement to a national network serving nearly 8,000 Rocketeers, we have still never expelled a student at any school in any year.

Rocketship’s Network Suspension Rate Was 2.6% in the 2015-2016 School Year

We make every effort to keep all kids in class every day. Removing a student from class, even in elementary school, is strongly correlated with negative academic, behavioral, and social outcomes. School suspension is a last resort strategy that we only use when a disruptive student endangers the safety of other students, teachers, or school staff.

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This is compared to the national average 4.1% suspension rate for charter elementary schools (2011-2012 most recent data available) as well as to the California statewide suspension rate average of 3.8% (2014-2015 most recent data available).

Rocketship schools focus on modeling and reinforcing positive behaviors rather than punishing children for negative behaviors. Many of our students confront very challenging experiences at home and in their community. As educators, it is our responsibility to help students learn how to understand and manage their emotions. We integrate social and emotional learning opportunities and positive behavior interventions and supports throughout our Rocketeers’ school day. And while it may be hard to measure those skills, not everything that matters can be measured. We know these skills matter tremendously to the success and well-being of our students.

Rocketship Keeps Students with Disabilities in the Classroom with Support

During the 2015-16 school year, Rocketship schools served over 600 students with disabilities. Rather than isolate and stigmatize these students, we operate a meaningful inclusion model that ensrocketeers_with_disabilities_v01-0ures all our students with disabilities have daily access to our general education environment.

This means all students with disabilities spend at least half of their day in general education classrooms, with the vast majority spending over 80% of their day in the general education environment. With this inclusive approach,
our students with disabilities are exposed to the same Common Core-aligned instructional program as their typically developing peers. By coupling Universal Design for Learning principles and co-teaching practices with strategic small group and individualized instruction, we help all Rocketeers achieve ambitious academic and social outcomes.

Our students with an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) achieved 1.2 years of growth in math and reading last school year.

By showing our Rocketeers that we believe in their potential from the moment they start school through every minute they are with us, they learn to believe in themselves and learn to overcome the low expectations our culture places on kids from disadvantaged communities. They learn that they are in control of their future. And they learn that they are worth investing in because together, we will eliminate the achievement gap in our lifetime.


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