Silicon Valley's Discovery Prep has state-of-the-art technology. It also has unusually engaged teachers and parents.
Parents are everywhere in the life of 640-student Discovery Prep. The schools organize meetings on curriculum, instructional strategies, and student behavior to enlist parents as educational partners. They take students and parents on bus trips to Stanford, Berkeley, and other local colleges and universities to get them invested in higher education. And they ask parents to spend 30 hours a year in their children's schools and most do. As a result, students have the sense that there are always adults ready to help, that their parents care about them, and that education is important. When I visited Discovery Prep, parents were reviewing young students' rudimentary homework assignments, freeing teachers to spend more time on instruction. (Rocketship's parents have also been active in the local community, forming a political action committee to elect reform-minded San Jose school board members.)