Creating a Summit Learning environment often requires fundamental changes to the way teachers and students approach learning. In order to ensure a successful implementation that empowers teachers to meet the needs of every student, partner schools are held to the following Program requirements.
1. Team Commitments to Program Participation
A. Secure commitment from district and school leadership for Program implementation.
We require a commitment from the school leader and at least one district/CMO leader who will support Summit Learning implementation and the teachers participating in the Program. Commitment from district leadership supports a successful implementation by ensuring that there is top-to-bottom alignment in the organization around the philosophy of teaching and learning that the Program advances. In addition, central office support can help clear barriers that may arise throughout implementation.
B. Commit that any student participating in the Summit Learning Program will do so across the four core classes of English, math, history, and science.
We designed Summit Learning to give students the most cohesive personalized learning experience possible. That's why we expect the student experience of Summit Learning to happen across the four core classes (English, math, history and science). This way, students 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. Often, we see schools choose a single grade-level team or a subset of a grade-level team to pilot implementation. Then, we see this grow over time. There are also cases in which a school decides to implement across a full grade-level or multiple grade-levels in a single year. As long as any student in the program experiences Summit Learning across their core classes, the Program requirement is met. The Summit Learning team is eager to discuss how you are thinking about getting started and share our experiences and recommendations.
We organize implementing teachers at a site into grade-level teams. A grade-level team consists of the teachers who teach a common set of students in all 4 core subjects (i.e. science, English, math, history) in a single grade (4-12) as well as the school leader/principal. The grade-level team 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.
C. Attend in-person professional development trainings hosted by the Summit Learning Program.
Professional development is a key component of implementing Summit Learning, and we are committed to supporting Program schools find and execute the best strategies for Summit Learning in their communities. Therefore, as part of your participation in the Program, Summit provides free professional development at regular intervals throughout the year. Attendance at in-person trainings is an essential part of the Program and a successful implementation.
Throughout the year, there are three instances of in-person professional development trainings:
- Summer: Onboarding Summer Training experience for educators and administrators preparing to implement Summit Learning for the first time. During this Summer Training, we prepare the implementing team to launch Summit Learning. Attendance is required for anyone who is new to the Summit Learning Program.
- Fall / Spring: Twice per year, we provide additional in-person training that allows implementing teams to choose from a menu of relevant offerings. We encourage schools to bring as many participants as they are able; however, at minimum we require that at least one instructional leader and two teachers from each grade-level team attend each convening.
Convenings take place in several cities across the country and are supported by Summit's expert professional development team made up of former teachers, school leaders, and district administrators.
D. Instructional leader participates in regular coaching with Summit Learning mentors.
Creating a Summit Learning environment requires a fundamental change to the way teachers and students approach learning, so enthusiasm and a growth mindset are critical. Everything from grading policies and assessments to bell schedules and how teachers and students spend their time will need to be thoughtfully designed to create the conditions for successful implementation.
In order to support that transition and lay the foundations for long-term success, Summit is committed to providing ongoing support and coaching in the form of a dedicated Summit Learning mentor for the first four years of a school's participation in the Program. Following acceptance into the Program, your school will be appointed that Summit Learning mentor. The mentor will get to know you and your needs and will provide support in the form of coaching calls and school visits as you make your way through the change management process.
To ensure we build a strong partnership and carve out dedicated time, we require all participating schools to regularly communicate with their Summit Learning mentor (i.e. meet virtually for at least 60 minutes bi-weekly, in addition to regular email communication).
Mentors are coaches, thought partners, and advocates for Program schools, and we ask that you leverage their support and expertise in order to be successful in your implementation of Summit Learning.
2. School Calendar and Bell Schedule
A. Develop an academic calendar and class schedule that supports all three components of the Summit Learning instructional approach — Mentoring, Projects, and Self-Direction.
Summit Learning encourages teaching all core classes as year-long or semester courses to give students a suggested pacing and sufficient time to work through course material. Schools with shorter-length core classes (i.e. science, English, math, history) will need to convert them to semester or year-long courses for participation in Summit Learning. Please let us know while completing your application if this does not align well with your current scope and sequence for core course offerings.
In order to implement Summit Learning, schools must identify a way to include three major components - Mentoring, Projects, and Self-Direction - into their weekly schedule.
B. Mentor each student in 1:1 check-ins at least 10 mins/week.
A value of personalized learning is that every student is deeply known. One of the ways we make this a reality is by ensuring that every student has a mentor with whom they meet regularly. At Program schools, mentors check in with their mentees for a 10-minute, one-to-one meeting every week.
Mentors commit to providing personalized support and getting to know 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 their 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 grade-level teams to manipulate the daily schedule to accommodate mentor time or have a set time blocked out for these mentoring check-ins.
3. Instruction and Assessment
A. Engage students in projects and assess student performance based on the Summit Cognitive Skills Rubric.
Cognitive Skills are essential and transferable lifelong skills, 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.
B. Teach and assess students based on math units.
Math 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 math units require students to engage in problem-solving, reasoning, critical thinking, and significant cognitive work. Units are facilitated by a teacher during the normal math course ("Project Time"); the units take the place of most of the projects and feel similar in many ways (some projects 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.
C. Ensure that grading policies align with Summit Learning's grading philosophy.
Depending on your current policy, the implementation of Summit Learning may involve adjustments to your grading practice. Our grading philosophy reflects our values, which underpin both this instructional approach and what is best for students. A student's grade is a combination of their growth in Cognitive Skills and their mastery of content, with Cognitive Skills weighed most heavily. Additionally, grades should reflect students' demonstration of what they learned and are calculated using a collection of standards-aligned rubrics that are integrated into the curriculum. Homework and participation are not included in grades.
D. Administer the NWEA Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment 2 times per year (fall and spring) to all students participating in the Program, and share MAP results with the Summit Learning Program.
The NWEA MAP assessment gives teachers a window into their students' progress and growth, helping everyone check in on their goals and refine their personalized learning plans. We ask schools participating in the Program to use the NWEA MAP assessment in order to measure student growth based on where students start the school year. It's for this reason that we ask participating schools to administer the NWEA MAP assessment 2 times per year, as well as share the results with Summit Learning. The fall assessment serves as a baseline to understand where a student might need differentiation throughout the year. The spring assessment shows progress from where the student was in the fall. The Summit Learning Platform houses a MAP tool that educators can use in supporting their students.
Additionally, one of our goals with Summit Learning is to learn what works and share best practices with the wider education community. The NWEA MAP assessment is an important external measure that we use to gather data in order to further support Program schools.
Please note: Schools are responsible for the cost and administration of the NWEA MAP assessment.
4. Technical Requirements
A. Use the Summit Learning Platform as the supporting tool for classroom work.
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 supports 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.
B. Ensure that every student has a laptop or Chromebook with a keyboard.
Every Summit Learning student needs their own computer with a keyboard. iPads and Android devices 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 is imperative for all students to have access to computers at school.
Although not a requirement, it is also a best practice for students to have technological access at home for continued access and to increase the equity for all students.
C. 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.
Some school districts may have pre-existing agreements with technology companies that constrain internet use to specific browsers or applications. Please check to verify that yours does not.
D. Use Clever or manual enrollment codes to sync student information with the Summit Learning Platform.
The Summit Learning Platform offers two options for enrolling students. The first is to sync your student information system (SIS) with the Summit Learning Platform through Clever. Alternatively, you can create your own courses and have students enroll using manual enrollment codes (like Google Classroom)
A bit more about Clever: Clever securely transmits student data from your student information system and keeps educational applications rostered and up-to-date. School districts use Clever because they retain full control of student information and benefit from Clever's industry-leading encryption, which keeps student data private and safe. In the US, a third of all schools already use Clever. We think it's the best tool available for the job: very secure, easy to set up and use, and free for schools.
E. Have sufficient internet access in every classroom to support a 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 kilobits per student (kbps) to 1.5 megabits 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.
F. Connect the Summit Learning team with the school site lead for student information system(s).
Summit Learning will need to coordinate with the person who leads the school's student information system (SIS).
5. Legal Requirements
A. Sign and abide by the Summit Learning Program Agreement.
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 supportive, it's important that we detail what we will do together, and what we expect of each other.
Therefore, we require participating schools 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 whomever is in charge of signing contracts like this one for your school.
B. Adhere to the Summit Learning Program's data privacy and security policy.
Protecting student data is critical to Summit Learning. Summit has worked with leading U.S. privacy experts to help ensure we protect the information we collect and use it ethically. Your school must commit to following this policy.
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.
Please see our Privacy Center for more information.