Many Kids Are Waiting for Superman, But Some Have Found Their Rocketship

We’re getting closer to that Waiting for Superman Colorado premiere… less than two weeks! While we know that a school isn’t necessarily better because it’s a charter school, the coming of the movie reminds us there are some innovative charter operators attaining remarkable results.

One of the charter networks deserving positive attention is Rocketship Education, the “hybrid” school network that launched a few years ago in San Jose, California. (To get up to speed, go back and listen to the iVoices podcast with Rocketship Education CEO John Danner.) The most recent results (PDF) show that Rocketship’s two elementary schools — both of which serve high-poverty stuent populations– are continuing on a high trajectory of academic performance:

Rocketship Education today announced 2009-2010 school year STAR results for its schools, Rocketship Mateo Sheedy Elementary and Rocketship Sí Se Puede Academy. Mateo Sheedy Elementary (RMS) earned an API score of 925 for the second year in a row, and Sí Se Puede Academy (RSSP) earned an API score of 886 in its first year of operation.

This places the two Rocketship schools in #5 and #15 positions, respectively, for all California schools with populations of students for whom at least 70% (or more) qualify for free and reduced meals.
Sí Se Puede Academy (RSSP) was the top school in this category, for new schools which opened in the fall of 2009.

“Any way that you slice the data, Rocketship students achieved stellar results,” declared Rocketship cofounder and CEO, John Danner. “These strong scores are another powerful proof point that we can eliminate the achievement gap, by providing all students – regardless of income – with an excellent education, and put them on firm footing for successful college prep.”

So what exactly does this have to do with Waiting for Superman? Two things. First, the very same release features a quote from the movie’s director:

“All parents deserve to send their kids to the best public schools, and all kids deserve a shot at a great education,” said Davis Guggenheim, Director of the new documentary, Waiting for Superman. “Rocketship is vivid proof that we can and should eliminate the achievement gap in just a single generation. Rocketship’s commitment, vision and dedication to helping low-income students succeed are amazing. And they’re doing it with the same public funding that all public schools receive.”

Second, Rocketship’s leadership is thinking bigger than its own backyard, having put together its Schools 2.0 blog, “an exciting venue for discussing the next decade as we collectively remake public education into an engine of growth for America.” It looks potentially like a great place to get involved by giving your input, sort of like our own locally-focused Colorado Kids Can’t Wait site, which I recommend as a great place for tangible ideas and resources to help citizens improve schools by doing things like getting involved in local school board elections.

Oh, I almost forgot a final connection. While far too many American children are out there waiting for Superman to swoop in and help them soar to new heights, it’s encouraging to see a few students find their Rocketship to help them take off!