Rocketship Education was established in 2006, by former public school educators, Preston Smith and John Danner. The pair were looking for new ways of addressing the problem of engaging students and families from disadvantaged areas of San Jose, California. This tough task resulted in the formation of the Rocketship Education charter schools model, which has spread from a single Church hall to locations across California, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia.
In 2016, an NPR piece about the fast-growing charter school system raised a number of issues, which has since been addressed by Rocketship Education CEO, Preston Smith. The main issues included the time each student spent using technology during their learning time, which was recorded at 80 minutes per day. Preston Smith believes the evolution of technology should not see the use of digital platforms punished but the standard of software monitored. The response from Preston Smith included the naming of five pieces of software used by students on a regular basis to improve their basic abilities. Smith believes the focus of modern academia should be on the standard of software, not the time students spend using technology.
A second issue raised by the NPR report was that of classroom management, a problem for all public and charter schools. Classroom management is an issue Rocketship Education takes seriously with educators encouraged to control their classroom without becoming too militant. Students are often assisted during non-classroom hours by non-certified staff members in a process which is the norm for students across the U.S.
Mentoring and tutoring students was another area Rocketship Education’s Preston Smith wished to address. No matter if a school is part of a charter network or the public system, educators are always outnumbered by students meaning those in need often struggle to keep pace with their peers. The hiring of non-certified staff members as tutors and mentors is common practice throughout the U.S. and is done with care by Rocketship Education to ensure high standards are always maintained