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SRI Study: Rocketship Students Experience Stronger Math Gains with More Online Instruction

First-of-its-kind study of Rocketship's use of adaptive, online learning programs as part of its hybrid model; study shows positive impact of online math instruction on student achievement gains

August 2, 2011 — Rocketship Education, the nation's leading network of K-5 hybrid charter schools, today released a study by SRI International which found that Rocketship students who had greater access to online math instruction, specifically the DreamBox Learning program, achieved significant gains in overall mathematics scores. The independent study conducted by SRI, Evaluation of Rocketship Education's Use of DreamBox Learning Online Mathematics Program, was commissioned by Rocketship to measure the impact of online math learning on its students' academic growth in Learning Lab, a key component of the Rocketship Hybrid School Model.

The SRI study was conducted over a 16-week period in the fall of 2010. Rocketship administered the Northwest Evaluation Association's (NWEA) mathematics tests at the beginning of the study in September 2010, with a post-study test in January/February of 2011. The study found that Rocketship students who received additional online math instruction through the DreamBox Learning program scored an average of 2.3 points higher on the NWEA mathematics test than similar students who did not receive the additional online instruction time. For the average student, these gains would be equivalent to progressing 5.5 points in percentile ranking (e.g. from 50 percent to 55.5 percent) in just 16 weeks.

"The SRI study confirms Rocketship's core belief that adaptive, online learning positively impacts students' overall academic achievement," said Chief Schools Officer Aylon Samouha. "To date, this is the most comprehensive analysis of the key component of our hybrid school model, our Learning Lab. The use of highly effective, cost-efficient individualized instructional programs like DreamBox Learning is allowing Rocketship to realize its mission of closing the achievement gap. We are pioneering new and innovative methods to improve student learning and will continue to build on and strengthen the effectiveness of our hybrid model."

Rocketship opened the nation's first hybrid charter school in 2007, establishing the Rocketship Hybrid School Model, which combines traditional classroom learning with individualized instruction through online technology and intensive tutor-led small groups.

A key ingredient to the Rocketship Hybrid School Model's success is Learning Lab, in which students each day spend one-on-one time on computers utilizing adaptive, online programs to master reading and math skills. Coupled with rigorous classroom instruction and teachers, Learning Lab enables Rocketship to assess students' weaknesses and provide remediation to ensure they graduate prepared for a college-prep curriculum.

"To date, the research [on technology-based instruction] has been limited, especially when it comes to the use of technology with our youngest students," said the SRI study. "This study's positive findings about the effects of DreamBox instruction are likely to fuel the sense of optimism about the promise of online learning, especially in the light of relatively modest treatment. In interpreting these findings, we urge educators and policymakers to keep in mind a basic principle of scientific research- that research findings contribute to the ongoing refinement of hypotheses but do not represent a conclusion."

A total of 583 K-1 students from Rocketship's three schools in San Jose, California participated in this first-of-its-kind, 16-week study. Students were randomly assigned to a treatment and control group. All students received 100-110 minutes per day of math instruction in the traditional classroom. On average, students in the treatment group logged 22 hours on DreamBox over the 16-week period compared to five hours in the control group. To measure learning progress, students were administered the NWEA MAP mathematics test at the beginning and conclusion of the study.

Rocketship's hybrid approach has led to a strong track record of success, with Rocketship's schools ranking in the top one percent of all public schools in California serving low-income students. Not only does Rocketship outperform nearby schools, but its schools also outperform wealthier California school districts, such as the Palo Alto Unified School District. Additionally, nearly 90 percent of Rocketship students have demonstrated math proficiency, compared to just 54 percent of students, respectively, in surrounding public schools.

About Rocketship Education

Rocketship Education is the leading K-5 hybrid charter school network. Rocketship is dedicated to eliminating the achievement gap and laying the foundation for college success for all students. Based on its unique Rocketship Hybrid School Model, Rocketship schools focus on exceptional teaching, leadership development, individualized instruction and deep parental involvement. Rocketship is transforming elementary public education with strong academic results, while operating its schools solely on traditional public funding. Rocketship Education opened the nation's first hybrid school in 2007 and currently operates three charter schools in San Jose, serving over 1,300 students. Rocketship is scheduled to open two additional charter schools in San Jose in the fall of 2011.