In our continued effort to bring in perspectives of international best practitioners, Central Square Foundation (CSF) hosted John Danner, CEO and co-founder of Rocketship Education last week. During his week-long trip, he visited a couple of low-cost schools in Mumbai and met with over a hundred people working with education technology in Delhi and Mumbai. He also spoke at the InspirEd conference in Mumbai, where he interacted with a number of teachers, school leaders and others involved in the education reform movement in India.
John shared with us in detail about Rocketship Education; a high-performing blended learning school that he co-founded in San Jose, California in 2006. Rocketship Schools are among the top 15 for academic performance among low-income schools in California. The use of technology to personalise learning for each child is at the core of Rocketship’s model. The personalization is based on the child’s attempts thus far and determined by what she needs to learn next. In this model teachers play the role of facilitators rather than instructors. The school leader plays the critical role of investing parents and teachers into this new approach to learning.
John challenged us to think beyond the traditional brick and mortar schools and to question the convention where only adults take on the role of a teacher. He also stressed upon the importance of accountability standards and clear focus on learning outcomes. In the absence of standardized national or state level assessments, it is difficult to establish which education models are really working and is likely to lead to misinformed policy formulation.
In our interactions with John Danner it was quite apparent that both our countries are facing similar challenges in K-12 education. The problems in India only get magnified owing to factors such as larger population, misallocated government funding and missing accountability standards. It also made us realise that India can move faster in its reform efforts by learning from the US experience.
We hope John Danner was able to inspire our education reformers in India to think out-of-the box and create newer, innovative models of learning suited to the Indian context.
About John Danner:
John Danner, CEO of Rocketship Education co-founded the charter network Rocketship Education in 2006. John has an extensive experience in education sector ranging from serving as the Chairman of the Charter School Resource Center of Tennessee for four years, founding director of KIPP Academy Nashville, teaching in the Nashville public school system for three years, and co-founding Sacred Heart Nativity School in San Jose. Before his work in education, John was founder and CEO of NetGravity, an Internet advertising software company. John holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and a Master’s Degree in Education Policy from Vanderbilt University. John is an Ashoka Fellow, and a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute, and the 2010 winner of the McNulty Prize.