In our efforts to achieve educational reform, we intend to demonstrate that the Rocketship Model can be a vital, strategic contributor to the elimination of the achievement gap in high-need neighborhoods across the country. By opening clusters in high-need communities, we will demonstrate that the poorest students in the city can reach grade level and also supply an enormous influx of Rocketship graduates capable of achieving at high levels in middle and high school. We are currently identifying our first set of expansion cities and aspire to provide options for excellent education to families across the country.
Rocketship will open regional clusters in targeted neighborhoods across the US serving disadvantaged elementary school students. Each regional cluster will initially open with 8 schools. We expect these regions to grow into networks of 20 to 100 schools, depending on local need. By operating at this scale, Rocketship will eliminate the achievement gap in each of the communities we serve while operating its schools solely and sustainably with traditional government funding.
Selection Criteria for Candidate Regions
In order to properly prepare for the opening of a new region, Rocketship seeks to partner with communities in order to form a local advisory board and meet four goals at least 18 months before school opening in that region. Regional teams will join new regions 13 months prior to school opening. These regional teams will launch the new region and will support the founding school leader in that region by recruiting students and teachers, engaging parents and community members, and building academic, operational, and financial systems that allows for our schools to succeed.
Rocketship has identified four main criteria we use to determine viability of a region:
- 8 School Cluster: We seek to initially open 8 schools within 5 years, contingent upon outstanding academic performance of existing Rocketship schools in that region.
- Strong School Leader: At the head of a great school is always a great school leader. We seek recruit and select four to six individuals from candidate regions that demonstrate a strong potential to excel at running outstanding Rocketship schools. Individuals who are selected to found a new region learn, internalize, and demonstrate success running Rocketship schools in San Jose before launching a new region.
- Local Financial Support: A unique factor of the Rocketship Model is that a region of 8 schools is financially sustainable running solely on public funding. In order to grow to scale, we secure a $3.5 million commitment in start-up funding from local funders beyond federal and state funding. In addition to financial necessity, this commitment on the part of local philanthropic organizations also underscores the region’s political and community support, which are equally as important in successfully establishing Rocketship in a new region.
- Charter-Friendly Political Environment: State and local political barriers can prevent high-performing national charter school networks from opening schools in traditionally underserved communities. We seek to partner with community organizations to assess the current political environment and create and action plan for reforming policies that are prohibitive to establishing proven charter school models in the state.