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2015-2016 Rocketship Year in Review

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by Beyond Editorial Team

In the 2015-16 school year, 90% of our Rocketeers returned to our schools. We are humbled by this remarkable vote of confidence and work relentlessly to deliver on the promise our families see in our schools every single day. But what is it about Rocketship that drives this remarkable loyalty? Find out in our 2015-16 Year in Review.

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They Deserve a Dream: A Reflection

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by Dr. Bianca Jones
Principal, Rocketship Nashville Northeast Elementary 
Editor’s Note: Dr. Jones originally wrote this piece as part of Rocketship’s weekly Thursday Reflection, in which selected staff reflect on their practice and current topics and share with the larger Rocketship staff. All names were changed to protect confidentiality. We’re reprinting these inspirational words in celebration of Black History Month.
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The Power of Choice: Fourth Annual Middle School Expo

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by Michael Yeung
Fifth Grade teacher at Rocketship Fuerza

At Rocketship, we focus on rethinking elementary school because we believe a solid foundation in the early years is critical to success in the future. As we start this new year, many of our families are beginning to think about the next steps in their Rocketeer’s education. Middle school is a critical time, with challenges ranging from the academic to the social and emotional arising as students navigate this change. It is a time of great transition and often where the achievement gap between students widens. We are committed to helping our families navigate through this transition equipped to make the right choices for their children. Continue reading

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U.S. Secretary of Education Visits Rocketship

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by Preston Smith
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 As I opened the door to welcome the United States Secretary of Education, John B. King, Jr., to Rocketship Rising Stars Academy, he turned to me and said “I’ve wanted to visit Rocketship for a very long time.”

Appointed by President Obama, Secretary King is an inspiring and proven leader in our movement to close the achievement gap. He began his career as a high school teacher and went on to co-found Roxbury Preparatory Charter School which became one of the highest-performing urban middle schools in Massachusetts, closing the racial achievement gap, and outperforming schools in Boston’s affluent suburbs. Roxbury Prep later joined Uncommon Schools, where Secretary King served as managing director before becoming Commissioner of Education for the State of New York.

Secretary King knows what it takes to run a high-performing public school network in underserved communities. As we walked the halls of Rising Stars he told me he’s heard great things about Rocketship but wanted to see for himself what is driving our impressive performance.

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Rocketship Encourages Creativity and Problem Solving with Hour of Code

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by LaToya Fernandez
Social Justice and Culture Teacher, Rocketship Discovery Prep

Rocketship is celebrating Computer Science Education Week (December 5-11) this month by hosting the global learning movement, Hour of Code, in our classrooms for a second year. Last year we noticed that our students went from video gamers to video game designers, and discovering algorithms was just as exciting as discovering cheat codes to defeat virtual opponents. Rocketship is continuously integrating enriching programs into our students’ learning to gain both exposure and opportunities for our communities. We are excited to host the event again this year, and want to continue to give our students the tools they need to take tech advancement to the next level and represent their communities at the forefront of the coding movement.

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Rising Stars Ribbon-Cutting : Celebrating our 10th San Jose School

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by Beyond Editorial Staff

On Friday September 30th, the Rocketship Bay Area community gathered at our newest San Jose school, Rocketship Rising Stars Academy. Located at 3167 Senter Road in South San Jose, Rising Stars is our 10th school in San Jose and one of 12 in the greater Bay Area.

The ribbon-cutting brought together Rocketship students, parents, teachers, national staff, board members, supporters, and community members to celebrate this new school and their focus on Rising Stars’ fifth core value of advocacy. Continue reading

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New Study Finds Rocketship Graduates are a Year Ahead of Their Peers

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by Preston Smith
Co-Founder and CEO

When we launched Rocketship ten years ago, we decided to focus exclusively on elementary school. We believed that if we helped our Rocketeers build a solid foundation in those early years, they would thrive in middle school, high school and beyond.

But those tween years are tough. Navigating new social codes can wreak havoc on a student’s self-esteem. And learning how to manage a radical shift in academic independence takes time to develop. There’s no doubt that middle school is one of the most challenging transitions in a student’s academic journey.

So we decided it was time to examine how our Rocketeer alumni perform in middle school. We engaged SRI International, an independent nonprofit research center, to conduct a three-year study on the performance of our Rocketeers in middle school.  This study followed nearly 2,000 students in seven San Jose middle schools with high concentrations of Rocketship graduates. SRI rigorously compared academic performance, socio-emotional skills, and student confidence navigating the middle school transition between Rocketeer alumni and their peers in middle school.

The results are in. Rocketeers are a year ahead of their classmates in math and reading after the first and second years of middle school.

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En fotos: Rocketship celebra el Mes de la Herencia Hispana

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by BEYOND Editorial Team

¡El Mes de la Herencia Hispana se inició oficialmente el 15 de Septiembre, y nuestros “Rocketeers” han estado celebrando! Aquí en Rocketship rendimos tributo a la diversidad cultural durante todo el año, pero este mes nuestros estudiantes tuvieron la oportunidad de vestirse, divertirse, y reconocer algo de la gran historia, cultura, y tradición de la diversa cultural hispana.

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Rocketship Ranks in The Top 10% on California State Assessment

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by Preston Smith
Co-Founder & CEO

The results are in!  I am proud to report that once again, our Rocketeers across the Bay Area are beating the odds in both math and English Language Arts!

On the 2015-16 California state assessment, Rocketship’s Bay Area network of 10 schools ranked in the top 10% in both math and English Language Arts among all elementary school districts serving a similar student population across the state.

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The Conversation on Race Our Nation Needs Happens in Classrooms Everyday

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by Preston Smith
Co-Founder & CEO, Rocketship Education

Every August, I visit all of our schools across the country to meet with our teams, listen to their vision for the year ahead, and celebrate the start of a new school year with our Rocketeers and families. My annual back-to-school road trip is one of my favorite moments of the school year. But this year, my tour took on a different tone. The tragic events this summer in Baton Rouge, Minnesota, Dallas, Orlando and Milwaukee brought a new sense of urgency to our start of school conversations.

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