Nashville Public Schools recently added a second test to their standards for elementary schools, known as the NWEA Measures of Academic Progress (MAP). The achievement gap in schools, where lower-income students typically start school further behind than their peers and struggle to catch up through traditional schooling, begins in kindergarten and elementary schools. In addition to a traditional proficiency test that measures whether or not a child is performing at grade level, the MAP is a value-added test that determines how much growth the student makes over a year.
For low-income students, the growth needed in one year to catch up is often more than one year’s worth; If a student places in the 10th percentile of their peers on a proficiency test at the beginning of 1st grade, they would need to grow 1.3 years in academics every year to be caught up by 4th grade. Growing at such an accelerated rate can be difficult in public schools, especially for the low-income students that often can’t afford supplements to their in-class learning.
Rocketship Education, a nationwide network of charter schools based in California, set out to give a bit of hope to these students. Depending on the location, Rocketship Academies are comprised of 70-80% low-income students on average, and they consistently rate in the top 10% of public elementary schools.
From their website, “Our transformational public schools are built on three pillars: personalized learning, talent development, and parent power.” By implementing a more individual approach to unlocking the potential of young students, investing in school employees to unleash their full potential, and utilizing the power of parents to keep school officials accountable and encourage their child’s educational growth, Rocketship Academies help close the achievement gap and send underprivileged students to the top of their classes.
In Nashville, the wider implementation of the MAP test is a clear indication of the success of Rocketship Education’s technique of following the growth rate of students to help them succeed.