“I don’t want outcomes determined by zip codes,” he said. “I want everybody to have a fair shot.”
Smith, the co-founder and CEO of the public elementary charter school system Rocketship Education, began his educational mission when he worked for Teach For America after graduation.
Since its inception in 2006, Rocketship has opened 11 public elementary charter schools, nine of which serve low-income students in the San Jose, Calif., area. Another school in Washington D.C. is set to open in 2015 and 16 more are expected in the next several years.
For most of the day, students at Rocketship schools learn in a traditional classroom. During the last two hours, students go to a computer lab, which uses a blended learning technique.
The lab consists of online lessons to enhance students’ understanding of subjects. Teachers can also assign practice problems that match each student’s level.
“Blended learning is not just putting computers in a classroom, but the purposeful integration of technology into curriculum instruction,” Smith said.
The approach allows students to have lessons catered to their individual needs, UNC education professor Keith Sawyer said.