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 school and district leadership for program implementation.
We require a commitment from at least one school-based administrator to serve as the primary contact for the Summit Learning Program. The school leader identified as the primary contact will be responsible for completing the program application & pre-work, leading the change management process, and overseeing teacher preparation and implementation of Summit Learning for the upcoming school year. If there is a change in leadership, then the schools may need additional time and/or district support to be eligible to launch as a partner for the upcoming school year. In addition, for schools that are part of a district, school leaders need to identify at least one district leader who will support Summit Learning implementation. Commitment from district leadership supports a successful implementation by ensuring there is top-to-bottom alignment around Summit Learning's approach to teaching and learning.
B. Commit that any student participating in the Summit Learning Program will do so across the core classes of English, math, history, and science.
We designed Summit Learning to give students the most cohesive 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), or any of those core courses that are a part of your academic program. 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 year over year. 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 to share our recommendations and examples of how school leaders have approached growing the Program at their school.
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, provide implementation support, communicate with other school and district administrators, and champion Summit Learning with families and the wider community.
C. Instructional leader participates in regular coaching with a Summit Learning Success Manager.
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 Learning is committed to providing ongoing support and coaching in the form of a dedicated Success Manager 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 Success Manager. The Success Manager will get to know you and your needs and will provide support in the form of coaching calls and potential 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 Success Manager (i.e. meet virtually for at least 60 minutes bi-weekly, in addition to regular email communication). We also expect participating schools to keep abreast of regular communications from the Program (e.g. email newsletters).
Success Managers 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. Consistently mentor each student in 1:1 check-ins.
Research shows that students with a teacher that understands them both academically and personally feel safer, happier, and more motivated at school. And as a result, they are more likely to succeed.
Summit Learning teachers are prepared to deeply understand, connect with, and support each one of their students. Every student has a mentor with whom they meet regularly. We recommend mentoring take place on a bi-weekly basis for at least 10 minutes.
Mentors commit to providing personalized support and getting to know students as whole people: academically, socially, and emotionally.
The bi-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 bi-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.
Students engage in rich, authentic projects in English, science, and history to develop and practice cognitive skills. 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 Learning 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.
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 in mathematics based on conceptual understanding.
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. 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. Professional Development Requirements
Ensure that teachers and school leaders in their first two years of program implementation attend professional development trainings hosted by the Summit Learning Program.
Professional development is a key component of Summit Learning, and we are committed to supporting our partner schools as they identify and execute the best strategies for Summit Learning in their communities. Therefore, as part of your participation in the program, Summit Learning provides free professional development at regular intervals throughout the year for teachers and school leaders in their first two years of implementation. We also provide asynchronous learning experiences, resources, and tools for school-based coaching and professional learning.
During the 2021-22 school year, Summit Learning will provide three in-person and/or live-virtual professional development trainings supported by our professional development team comprised of former teachers, school leaders, and district administrators.
- Summer Training: The Onboarding Summer Training experience is for educators and administrators preparing to implement Summit Learning for the first time. During this Summer Training, we prepare the implementing team to launch the program. Attendance is required for anyone who is new to the Summit Learning program, including school leaders and district support. In advance of Summer Training, educators must complete "Pre-Work" so they have core foundational knowledge and understanding of the Summit Learning Program.
- Fall Convening: As part of a 2-year training arc, Summit Learning offers a 2-day series of workshops that support strong instruction and leadership in the program for teachers and school leaders in their first two years of implementation.
- Spring Conference: The spring conference is a continuation of the 2-year training arc for teachers and leaders in their first two years of implementation. If it is safe to travel again, the spring conference may also include speakers and sessions on a range of program-related topics and be open to participants from all Summit Learning Program schools.
5. 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. Teachers have instant access to see how their students are performing and use that information to provide individualized, small group, and whole-class supports. The technology allows teachers to be more specific and strategic with their time, and provide materials to individual students at a pace and level of rigor that best meets their needs.
Because the Platform supports 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 Learning 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).
6. Legal Requirements
A. Sign and abide by the Summit Learning Program Agreement.
This is a unique partnership between school systems and Summit Learning. 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 program 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.
We believe it is important that schools, teachers, parents/guardians and students understand how we use and protect their data while providing the best learning experience for students. Protecting student data is critical to Summit Learning.
Summit Learning has worked with leading U.S. privacy experts to help ensure we protect the information we collect and use it ethically. Common Sense Privacy Program published privacy evaluations of the top 10 edtech products used in schools and districts across the U.S. Summit Learning came out on top, receiving their highest score. Read more about this distinction.
Summit Learning will only use student data to maintain and improve the Platform and provide information to teachers, students, parents, and other authorized users. Summit Learning will not use personally identifiable information from students' education records for targeted advertising.
Please see our Privacy Center for more information.