Many look at Rocketship’s new approach, which represents a significant departure from the blended learning model that helped launch the Bay Area nonprofit to national prominence, and see the future.
But the story behind the organization’s flexible classrooms is also a cautionary tale about the belief that technological innovation can fuel rapid school expansion without compromising quality. Although test scores have steadily declined as the network has added schools and students, Rocketship has maintained its voracious appetite for growth. Rather than resolve that tension, the new flexible classrooms have, by Rocketship’s own admission, further strained the organization and exposed underlying problems glossed over during the group’s ascent.
Some Rocketship leaders, for example, now acknowledge that their original blended learning model—which powered the organization’s initial growth, to nine schools and 5,200 students, before its impact could be rigorously studied—may be more effective at teaching students to follow directions than to think for themselves.
I admired Rocketship when they first started, but have been suspicious of their voracious growth. It seemed as if they had an idea that could work, but didn’t give nearly enough time to validate before expanding. Startups are, of course, in the business of growth. But kids can’t get those years of school back, so startup schools should have a higher bar to find a good model before pursing rapid growth.
Read full article from EdWeek: Growing Pains for Rocketship’s Blended-Learning Juggernaut