Implement Summit Learning

Here’s what you need to bring Summit Learning to your school.

Creating a Summit Learning environment requires a fundamental change to the way teachers and students approach learning, so having enthusiasm and a growth mindset are critical. Everything from grading policies, to weekly schedules, to assessments, to how teachers and students spend their time will need to change to create a successful implementation that empowers teachers to meet the needs of every student.

The program provides free support, tools, and professional development to support you through the change management process. The application process is designed to help your grade-level team know if you are prepared for success in implementing Summit Learning. To ensure the entire team is on board, each team member should review the program requirements carefully.

Application Timeline

Expect to hear from us within 2 weeks of submitting both rounds of the application.

  • Apr 14, 2017
    2017-2018 Application Deadline

    Grade-level teams submitting by this date will receive free travel and lodging on an as available basis.

  • After Apr 14, 2017
    Application extensions granted on case-by-case basis

    Please contact to discuss an extension if you are starting or completing your application after April 14th

  • June 2017
    School Leader Summer Training

    Required training for school leaders joining the program. Learn more here.

  • July 2017
    Full Team Summer Training

    Required regional training for full grade-level team and school leaders. Learn more here.

  • 1 Build Your Team

    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.

    The role of the school leader is to sponsor the program, champion the change management process and engage the parents and community. The technology leader, someone who has the expertise to ensure that the technology requirements are met, will also be part of the application team to ensure the technology is in place to support the implementation.

  • 2 Program Requirements

    • 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.

  • 3 Technical Requirements

    • Use the Summit Learning Platform as the core instructional tool

      The Summit Learning Platform is the backbone of the Summit Learning Program—not just another classroom tool. Developed by teachers, the platform brings personalized learning to classrooms by helping students set both short and long-term goals, track progress, prioritize their work, learn content at their own pace, complete projects that apply newfound knowledge to real-world situations and reflect on what they learned.

      Because the platform requires students to become self-directed learners, using it often causes both teachers and students to rethink their approach to the classroom experience. And though the platform complements students’ learning experiences, teachers remain firmly at the heart of it. Learning is a human experience, and no software tool should try to change that.

    • Ensure that every student has a laptop or Chromebook with a keyboard

      Every Summit Learning student needs his or her own computer with a keyboard. iPads and Android do not meet this requirement. We require this for two reasons: practicality and equity. First, the curriculum for Summit Learning includes writing essays, lab reports and other assignments that involve a lot of typing. Keyboards make that work faster and easier. Second, some students may already have computers at home, but others may not. It’s imperative for all students to have access to computers at school and at home.

    • Use Google Chrome browser and G-Suite for Education (Gmail and Google Docs) or Office365

      Summit designed the platform to work on Google Chrome. In addition, students and teachers must access it using either Google Education or Office365 accounts. These accounts may be ones they already have or set up specifically to use with the platform.

      Please note that we are piloting Office365 integration with the platform in the 2017-18 school year. The full curriculum will be accessible, but a few of the latest curriculum features will likely not be available to Office365 users until the 2018-19 school year.

      Some school districts may have have pre-existing agreements with technology companies that constrain internet use to specific browsers or applications. Please check to verify that yours does not.

    • Use Clever to sync student information with the Summit Learning Platform

      Clever is a software tool that the platform uses to securely transmit student data from student information services that schools already use. Clever keeps educational applications rostered and up-to-date. We think it’s the best tool available for the job: very secure, easy to setup and use, and free for schools.

      School districts use Clever because they retain full control of student information and benefit from Clever’s industry-leading encryption that keeps student data private and safe. In the US, one-third of all schools already use Clever. Those that don’t will need to get it in order to participate in Summit Learning.

    • Have sufficient Internet access in every classroom to support full 1:1 computing environment

      Each classroom participating in Summit Learning must have sufficient bandwidth to support a room full of students using the platform at the same time. High-quality, symmetrical internet access is essential to ensure a positive experience. We recommend that participating schools have a bandwidth for wide area network access allocation per student of 745 kilobytes per student (kbps) to 1.5 megabytes per student. We also highly recommend that all Summit Learning schools use enterprise-grade wireless equipment. Home or small-business equipment grade is not up to the task, and will often severely degrade the quality of the student experience.

    • Coordinate with the person who leads the school’s SIS.

      Summit Learning will need to coordinate with the person who leads the school’s Student Information System (SIS).

  • 4 Legal Requirements

    • Sign and abide by Summit’s partnership agreement (Note: This must be signed as written.)

      The Summit Learning Program is pioneering a new kind of relationship with public schools, which include both charter and district sites. This is a unique partnership between school systems and Summit. In order for it to be strong and supporting, it’s important that we detail what we will do together, and what expect of each other.

      Therefore, we require participants to sign a partnership agreement that clearly defines this relationship. A signed agreement is part of your application package, so please arrange to meet with and talk to whoever is in charge of signing contracts like this one for your school.

    • Adhere to Summit’s data privacy and security policy (Note: This agreement must be signed as written).

      Protecting student data is critical to Summit Learning. Summit has worked with leading US privacy experts to help ensure we protect the information we collect and use it ethically. Your school must commit to following this policy.

      Summit is committed to keeping student information secure. Our privacy policy reflects these values and adheres to national best practices for the use of student data. We have safeguards in place that restrict access to students’ personal information. Within the school, only authorized teachers and school staff who work with your student will have access to the information—just like with student records and grades on paper.

      Summit will only use student data to maintain and improve the platform, and provide information to teachers, students, parents and other authorized users. Summit will not use personally identifiable information from students’ education records for targeted advertising.

  • 5 Apply to the Program

    Once the entire team understands the program requirements, choose a school leader or a teacher to be the Application Team Lead to complete round 1 of the application. For round 1, the Application Team Lead submits the school profile, information about the grade-level team and complete a series of questions to assess the team’s ability to meet each of the program requirements along with a rationale for their assessment.

    Once Round 1 has been submitted and successfully completed, the Team Lead will provide the emails for each member of the grade-level team. Each team member will receive an email invitation to complete Round 2 of the application individually. In Round 2, each team member will need to complete a series of questions and short essays to demonstrate their understanding of each of the program requirements as they relate to their role and then self assess their readiness to meet the requirements. Once Round 2 has been successfully completed, the Team Lead will be notified.

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