Engage students in projects, which will be assessing students based on the Summit Cognitive Skills Rubric
Cognitive skills are those that apply to every subject area and the real world, such as asking questions, researching, identifying patterns and relationships, and speaking and listening. We truly value these skills, and we’re serious about assessing them, as well as making them transparent to students, teachers, and parents.
Summit developed the Cognitive Skills Rubric built into our Summit Learning Platform in collaboration with the SCALE team at Stanford, whose mission is to improve instruction and learning through the design and development of innovative, educative, state-of-the-art performance assessments and by building the capacity of schools to use these assessments in thoughtful ways, to promote student, teacher, and organizational learning. Our rubric is also based on prior learning from the Buck Institute’s work in cognitive skill analysis.
The rubric spans 4th grade through pre-professional programs, and helps students not only understand how they’re doing, but also understand that they can transfer these valuable skills from subject to subject, and achieve mastery day-by-day, year-by-year as they work toward college and career readiness.
Implement a competency-based progression for students
As part of the personalized learning model, we give students the freedom to move at their own pace and experience both success and failure. In the Summit Learning platform, students first learn by interacting with content in the Playlist, and then prove their knowledge in the Content Assessment.
The Playlist is essentially content arranged in a certain order. Content includes videos, articles, and other information. Students make their own decisions about how they want to interact with the content.
Once a student feels they are ready to show what they know, they will request to take an on-demand, proctored Content Assessment. Students must achieve an 80% proficiency on Summit Learning Content Assessments to move forward. If they score below 80%, they return to the same Playlist and continue to learn until they’re ready to try a Content Assessment again. (Content Assessments are different each time a student takes them, even when they cover the same content area.)
Putting students in the driver’s seat in this way enables teachers to move away from a lecture-oriented classroom environment, and spend more time as a mentor and facilitator, creating small groups to support struggling students, for example, but also letting them be the primary decision-makers in their own learning. Some of our teachers say this approach fundamentally changed they way they approach their day-to-day work—for the better!
Assess students in math based on concept units
Concept units are opportunities for students to gain an in-depth understanding of mathematical concepts. The units consist of a collection of backwards-planned, carefully-crafted, cognitively-rigorous rich math tasks. The learning experiences in Concept Units require students to engage in problem solving, reasoning, critical thinking and significant cognitive work. Units will be facilitated by a teacher during the normal math course (“Project Time”); the units will take the place of most of the projects and feel similar in many ways (some projects will remain in the math course). The key difference between the units and projects is that mathematical concepts, not cognitive skills, are the driving force behind the units.
Mentor each student in weekly 10-minute, one-on-one check-ins.
A value of personalized learning is that every student is deeply known. One of the ways we make this a reality is ensuring that every student has a mentor they meet with regularly. At Summit, mentors see their mentees every day and for a 10-minute, one-to-one meeting every week.
Mentors commit to providing personalized support and getting to know the students as whole people: academically, socially and emotionally.
The weekly check-in and any other organic mentor support revolve around ensuring that a student’s daily actions and current progress are aligned to his or her individual long-term goals and aspirations.
We know that scheduling is a complex process! We’ve found the key to maintaining these weekly check-ins has been empowering GLTs to manipulate the daily schedule to accommodate mentor time or have a set time blocked out for these mentoring appointments.
Adhere to the grading policy, which is based 70% on cognitive skills and 30% on content knowledge
The first step is to assemble a grade-level team to apply for the program together. A grade-level team consists of at least four teachers in a single grade (6-12) in the core subjects (math, science, social studies, and English) as well as the school leader/principal. This arrangement fosters collaboration and support among teachers using a new method for the first time and ensures students have a consistent, cohesive learning experience.
Our grading policy reflects our values, which is why we emphasize cognitive skills over content knowledge. We also want to reflect and honor students’ content acquisition and therefore have content contribute 30% of their grades.
The Summit Learning calculates grades, scoring students’ cognitive skills scores based on their performance throughout the year, using their highest scores to calculate the grades they receive in each class, recognizing and rewarding them for their best work. For the content knowledge portion, the Summit Learning measures a combination of “Power Focus Areas” (21%) and “Additional Focus Areas” (9%) for each subject, as determined by individual teachers.
Teach all core classes as full-year courses
Summit Learning makes use of the full academic year to give students a suggested pacing and sufficient time to work through course material. Schools with semester-length core classes (math, science, social studies, English) will need to convert them to yearlong courses for participation in Summit Learning. Please let us know if this does not align well with your current scope and sequence for core course offerings while completing your application.
Have a full grade-level team (including an English, Math, Science, and History teacher, as well as a school leader)
We designed Summit Learning to give students the most cohesive personalized learning experience possible. That’s why we ask that participating schools choose one, single grade level (grade 6-10) where you’ll implement Summit Learning. This way, students will take ownership of their learning environment in all their core classes at once. It becomes the “new normal,” not an isolated experience with one teacher in one class.
A grade-level team (GLT) consists of at least four teachers: one math, one science, one social studies and one English. The GLT arrangement fosters collaboration among teachers using a new method for the first time. We also know the importance of aligning various initiatives to an overarching vision for a school, which is why we ask all Summit Learning teams to include at least one Summit Learning school leader who can sponsor the program, run interference and champion Summit Learning with parents and the wider community.
Redesign schedule in alignment with the Summit Learning structure
In order to implement Summit Learning, schools must identify a way to include three major components – projects, competency-based content progression, and mentorship – into their weekly schedule. View examples of how schools around the country have created schedules.
Administer at least one external assessment to all participating students
External assessments give teachers a window into their students’ progress and growth, helping everyone check in on their goals and refine their personalized learning plans. Additionally, one of Summit’s goals with Summit Learning is to learn what works and share best practices with the wider education community. We share this information through our own reports on success as well as participation in outside studies on personalized learning. External assessments, those created outside of school-specific contexts, are an important measure that we use to gather data to support all of these things. They include but are not limited to NWEA MAP, ACT, STAAR Test, SRI, or a standard state test. If the cost to administer an external assessment prohibits your school from participating, please reach out to us.