Charter does more with same dollars

A San Jose charter elementary school with low-income students and very high test scores has won an award for financial  efficiency, reports John Fensterwald on Educated Guess.

Rocketship Education saves $500,000 per school per year by using online instruction to supplement classroom teaching.  The savings enables the network to pay for two hours a day of after-school tutoring for low achievers, a year-long internship for new principals, an academic dean to work with teachers and develop curriculum, higher teacher pay (for longer hours) and building new campuses — without relying on private donations.

Under the hybrid model, all 450 students in each school cycle through a block of math/science and two blocks of literacy/social studies in a traditional classroom setting with teachers who specialize in their fields. They also attend one block of learning lab, where they supplement math and reading classes with online work. Because the computer lab is not counted as instructional minutes, it can be run by a non-certified instructor. With three certified teachers teaching four classes, the school requires one fewer teacher per grade and five per school, along with five fewer classrooms.

Rocketship Mateo Sheedy, which primarily serves low-income Hispanic students who speak English as their second language, has an Academic Performance Index score of 926, which is high even for schools in affluent areas. A second Rocketship school opened this fall and more are planned.

John Danner, an Internet advertising software entrepreneur and a former elementary teacher, started Rocketship. He’s determined to run his schools on the same funding available to district-run public schools.

Here’s an Education Next short on Rocketship Mateo Sheedy.

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