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An elementary school student reads a book in class

Inside Rocketship Public Schools: Using Data for Reading Instruction

Project overview

A single lesson, delivered with a traditional approach to all students in a class at the same time, is not necessarily the best way to approach learning every day. To create a more personalized approach to instruction, educators need data.

Data helps teachers and students understand the what and the when in a daily feedback loop: what each student has mastered, what each student needs help with, when a student may be ready to accelerate, and when a student may need extra support outside of classroom instruction. But for teachers and students to fully harness the power of data, we need to empower them to create the how: classroom learning experiences that can flex according to the wide range of individual student needs on any given day.

We support Rocketship Public Schools network’s work to harness the how, with a data-driven instruction approach that has helped its students grow 1.5 grade levels in reading in just one year.


If the goal is to have people thrive, they should also be given the tools to help them. And that starts with data.

Ms. Jen Bickel, Rocketship Public Schools

How it helps

Ms. Jen Bickle — a first and second grade literacy teacher at Rocketship San Mateo — finds the how by starting each day with a data meeting. She gives students in each class individual feedback. Then, students head to a writing workstation where they apply a skill they learned the previous day. The students quickly realize if they met their goals from the day before, and then participate in their online learning program — which changes based on where each student is in the learning process. This allows Ms. Bickle to see what kids know, how much time they’re spending to grasp concepts, and how much additional instruction they might need. She’s able to give the necessary support to students who are falling behind, while those who are ready can move ahead. The approach also provides a sense of agency for students, allowing them to set achievable goals for themselves and take better control of their learning.

To help students maximize their potential, instructional models must point the way to the what, the when, and the how. As Ms. Bickle shares, “This model works, because it’s for the kids. If I can give a smaller child the power to read, then I’ve done something right.”

Foundation Project Lead