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Creating Learners for Life

Our approach is built on scientific research on how children learn. Students learn new subject matter in dynamic ways that spark curiosity and increase motivation. Teachers gain a deeper understanding of each child. Together, they build strong connections and set goals to empower students with agency and accountability for their own learning.

  • Why does my student say there is less teacher interaction compared to last year?

There is actually more of a focus on quality student-teacher interaction this year than ever before in years past. In these classrooms, teachers are teaching in ways that help students develop critical-thinking skills, not just memorize content. They spend the majority of their time teaching projects that help students learn to apply their content knowledge to real-world issues. Summit has created more than 200 interdisciplinary projects that develop the skills and habits students need to be successful in college and life. Teachers also mentor students, helping them plan and organize their school work and giving them feedback. Summit Learning is designed to help teachers develop strong relationships with students to truly understand their passions, interests and aspirations and how they can help them achieve those goals. These relationships are at the heart of great teaching

  • How do you think you can protect students personal information when even Zuckerberg’s teams of software engineers couldn’t protect their users private data?

Just like any student records, our school and Summit have strict protocols in place to protect student data contained in the Summit Learning Platform.The Platform contains limited information on student grades and assignments, teacher feedback, and email addresses that allow students to log in to the Platform.

Summit also uses secure servers, encrypts student information, and limits who can access student data. Summit has strong policies and practices in place to protect student information:

Summit goes above and beyond legal compliance. Summit is a signatory to the Future of Privacy Forum's Student Privacy Pledge and follows the set of principles established to safeguard student privacy, including responsible stewardship, protection, and transparent handling of student information.

In addition, Summit voluntarily complies with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). While COPPA does not apply to nonprofits, Summit voluntarily embraced COPPA requirements to provide increased transparency to our parents.

HGS/HMS, teachers, and/or students own and control the information provided to Summit and do so in a manner that is consistent with FERPA.

Summit will never sell student information and does not profit from schools, teachers and students. Not only is Summit absolutely opposed to using student information in this way, as a nonprofit public school network there is no reason for them to do so.

  • How do I see my child’s progress grade?

If you were to log into the parent portal there are a variety of things that you can see. The progress tab at the top under your student’s name will illustrate everything that they have attempted, mastered, and done for each week and it is broken down. You can also look over the right side of the page on that progress tab and you will see student grades. You will not see an actual grade until completion of a project. If you were to click on the week tab at the top you will be able to see the student’s goals they have set for the week. If they are green that means they have accomplished that goal and if they are blue it means they have not yet completed that particular goal. You also have the year tab that will indicate where they are in regards to the year. The blue vertical line indicates where they should be according to average pace. The color are much like a stop sign: green means good to go, yellow means caution and something needs to be revised, and red means behind or not to the level they need to be at.

  • It seems like the students have to get 100% on almost everything to get an A in the class, is that accurate?

No. The same grading scale we use throughout HGS/HMS classes is in effect. 90% is the threshold for an A.

  • It is also my understanding that students are allowed to continue to take exams until they pass with 7 out of 10. How does that give you an accurate account of what their grades should actually be?

The platform is designed for students to master content and truly grasp and understand what they are learning. Most students have to pass with an 8/10 to be considered proficient in the content. This grading is only on the focus areas that will later help them apply what they have learned and accounts for 30% of their grade. The projects, which consist of 70% of their grade are based on cognitive skills and their ability to apply what they have learned. This grade does not require a specific measurement and students can score according to their cognitive abilities (this is why they have several checkpoints to try and reflect and improve). Students can still get the traditional grades A, B, C, D, or F.

  • Why do they have to wait so long for feedback, which sometimes isn’t really feedback it is just move on comment?

Teachers try their best to look over the content and provide feedback in a timely manner. If it is quality and no revisions are necessary they provide a green and no feedback is required. The teachers have been trained on when to provide feedback and when not to (depending on the task). Students are aware of what the feedback colors mean and what they need to do with each color. Teachers are always available if a student has a particular question about feedback or if they think they don’t have enough clarity, I know the teacher would sit down with them and discuss.

  • Please explain the grading system. It was stated that a grade reported in Dec for the semester could be changed if the student became more proficient with the concepts during the spring semester and their grade improved. What does this really affect? Isn't the final grade, once the student has completed the course, what is used when figuring GPA?

This is a year-long grading period for the platform because you want to see growth and development within the cognitive skills. Semester grades are what is calculated into the GPA so both Dec and May grades would be calculated within GPA that is why we wanted to provide the opportunity to go back and change grades if needed.

  • What timeline markers have been established to assess the success/failure of this change?

We are continually monitoring student data and reflecting on a daily basis. We also have a mentor that meets with administration on a bi-weekly basis that assists with analyzing our data and problem solving around it. We continually are improving, problem solving, and analyzing the data and will stay focussed on Summit successes through this year.

  • Why are so many schools trying to get rid of Summit?

Summit continues to grow year to year. In the 2017-2018 school year, more than 330 schools, 2450 teachers, and 54,000 students across 39 states participated in the Summit Learning Program (Kansas joined in the 2018-2019 school year along with numerous other schools in Kansas). 93% of schools that were in the program remained in the program the following year. Of those schools that remained, over 80% expanded their Summit learning to other grade levels.

  • I didn’t get an email about parent login? How and where do I go to get this?

If you have not received an email from Summit regarding logging in to your students’ account then please email either your students’ mentor or the building principal.

  • Why can’t the student move ahead a grade level if they complete their current level requirements? What is the incentive for them to get ahead?

Students ARE able to move ahead if they get to that point. We are encouraging them to move at a pace that is comfortable for them and if there comes a point they are ready to move on to the next grade level then that can be supported. We will also be providing incentives for those students that complete a certain number of focus areas per week to be entered into a drawing. The more focus areas they complete the more tickets and chances they have for their name to be picked.

  • Please explain the grading system. It was stated that a grade reported in Dec for the semester could be changed if the student became more proficient with the concepts during the spring semester and their grade improved. What does this really affect? Isn't the final grade, once the student has completed the course, what is used when figuring GPA?

This is a year-long grading period for the platform because you want to see growth and development within the cognitive skills. Semester grades are what is calculated into the GPA so both Dec and May grades would be calculated within GPA that is why we wanted to provide the opportunity to go back and change grades if needed.

  • My son said he has only met once with his mentor. Will this increase once the newness gets worked out or do you need more mentors for a smaller student/teacher ratio?

Yes, there will be more frequency with mentoring after the mentors get to know their students. We should be in a timeframe to meet bi-weekly for most and then weekly for some students depending on the needs of the students.

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Data Privacy

Protecting Student Information is Summit's Top Priority

About Summit Learning

  • Summit Learning is is a comprehensive teaching and learning approach that combines more than a century of learning science and research. It is a rich classroom experience centered around strong relationships between teachers and students, complemented by an online platform.
  • The Summit Learning Program is run by a nonprofit organization, not a for-profit education technology company. It was created by educators for educators. Schools across the country partner directly with Summit.
  • The Summit Learning Program — which offers schools the curriculum, professional development, and resources to implement Summit Learning in their communities — is free to all schools, thanks to philanthropic support.

Principles that guide Summit's approach to protecting student information:

  • Student personal information is used only for educational purposes - to support schools in their mission to help students succeed.
  • Summit will never sell any student information or that of any user and does not profit from schools, teachers, and students.
  • Schools, teachers, and/or students own and control the personal information provided to Summit and do so in a manner that is consistent with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
  • Summit goes above and beyond legal compliance. For example, Summit voluntarily complies with safeguards established in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). While COPPA does not apply to nonprofit organizations such as Summit, Summit voluntarily embraced COPPA requirements to provide increased transparency.
  • Summit aligns to industry best practices. For example, as well as other security safeguards, we employ strong encryption of personal information in transit and at rest.
  • Summit will only share personal information with a limited set of service providers necessary to help provide or develop the Summit Learning Program, or as required by law. Summit is transparent about who these service providers are and the data that they have access to. Additionally, Summit Learning requires all service providers to comply with same privacy and security principles that Summit has in place.
  • Summit is committed to continuously improving its policies and practices and does so in partnership with schools, families and industry experts.

Top Data Privacy Questions

What Student Information is Collected?

Personal information including name, email address, grade level, and other identifiers to enable students to log on to the Platform and have access to relevant resources; information about a student’s academic progress, including student assignments and teacher feedback; and demographic information provided by the student’s school to ensure the needs of all students are being met.

Who Has Access to the Information?

Teachers for classroom instruction; parents to support student learning; Summit and its partners to improve the Program; and service providers necessary to help provide Summit Learning to schools. Summit will never sell student data and will only use personal student information for educational purposes, for security and safety purposes, or as required by law.

How is the Information Used?

Teachers use the information on the Platform to tailor instruction to meet the needs of all of their students, essentially deciding what to teach and to whom. Students keep track of their academic progress by accessing test results, feedback from their teachers about projects they’re working on, and more. Parents use information in the platform to understand what their student is learning and how they’re doing in school. And finally, Summit uses the information for educational purposes, such as continuing to make improvements to the Platform and overall Program, and for security and safety purposes, or as required by law.

How is it Protected?

Summit has established robust physical, technical, and administrative safeguards to protect the information in the Summit Learning Platform. These safeguards prevent unauthorized access, disclosure, or improper use of information.

For more information, please visit our Privacy Center at

summitlearning.org/privacy-center

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Tips on Helping Your Child During SDL

Talking to your child about Self-Directed Learning in Summit Learning

Often in a student’s first year with self-directed learning, we see a few different things happen:

  1. Excitement that they can push themselves and move at their own pace
  2. Increased engagement due to the variety of resources
  3. Motivation to pass a test, and a desire to take the test
  4. Potential frustration over the challenge of not passing the first time
  5. A sense of anxiousness over the number of Focus Areas and the pacing of the blue line
  6. A struggle to self-direct causing students to fall behind quickly without realizing it
  7. Uncertainty about how confident they need to be to take the test because they feel like they haven’t learned “everything.”
  8. Uncertainty about how to take the first step in studying

As a parent, you play an extremely important role in making this a positive experience for your child. We want to both motivate students to be successful academically, and we also want to help them build the habit of stress management when they face difficult challenges in the self-directed learning process. At any point in this cycle, you can coach your student in the right direction. Throughout this process, we want to inspire a growth mindset by helping them reflect and problem-solve when they are facing difficulty. Here are some responses that might be helpful for you:


Student Says Potential Parent Response
I passed a test! That’s great! I’m so proud of you. What steps did you take that helped you do that? What study skills did you learn?
I need to do SDL (Self Directed Learning) all night. (or you see your child spending hours on the computer for homework) Let’s talk about what goals you have set for SDL. We can’t do them all tonight, so what’s one step you may be able to complete tonight that will help you reach your goal?
Great - I’ll set a timer for 30 min and let’s see if you can do it in that time.
At HMS, there is enough time built in the day for students to complete work at school.

I am so frustrated - I tried this test 3 times and I still haven’t passed. This is too hard.

I know that can be hard. Last year, if you got a low score, you just got to move on. This year, you are working so hard, and it will feel so good once you have learned the material because you really will have learned it! This takes different amounts of time for different people so don’t worry too much about that, let’s just see how we are going to improve the next time. What did you do to study for this test? What might you do differently before you take it again? How can I help you study?
  • Which objectives did you have trouble with on the test?
  • Which one of those should you start with?
My teacher isn’t teaching me. She is always busy with other kids, and I can’t get help. That sounds frustrating. I know that sometimes your teacher is in mentor meetings and you have to do your work until she has time to meet with you - what might you do if she is busy right when you need help? Are there other people you can ask? How can you let her know you need help even if she isn’t available right then? When else might you be able to get support?
I just can’t figure out ____. I’ve been working on it forever and it’s so hard I understand. What strategies have you tried to learn this so far? What about those strategies is working for you? What additional things can you do that can help you get unstuck?
What help have you received from others? When is a time that you can get help from your teacher?
My teacher doesn’t teach me I know that through this process you are developing extremely important self-directed learning skills. Why do you think it is important that your teacher is showing you how to read carefully, take notes, and learn material on your own instead of just giving you the answers? What might that help you do? Your teacher won’t always be there to give you the answers so they are helping you learn the skills you need to find the answers on your own. What different approach to learning this might help you?
I’m finished with all my Power Focus Areas That’s an amazing accomplishment!
You now have the opportunity to challenge yourself further. One way to do that is to pass Additional Focus Areas, which are more challenging and will help you earn an additional 6 - 9% to your grade.

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How Cognitive Scores Translate

The Cognitive Skills Rubric (see below) specifies grade-level expectations for each skill. Most cognitive skills are assessed multiple times during the year in different subjects so that students, teachers, and families can track growth. The Cognitive Skills score for each course is calculated by taking the average of the highest score for each cognitive skill assessed in the course. To translate the average Cognitive Skills score into a course grade, the rubric levels are indexed to percentages for each grade level (see the table).

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Throughout the year, students demonstrate their competency in the Cognitive Skills according to their levels of development, with the goal of becoming high-school ready by the end of 8th grade and college- and career-ready by the end of 12th grade.

Most Cognitive Skills have a score between 0 and 8 on the rubric. A 6 represents “college- and career-ready” and a 4 represents “high-school ready.” This results in a translation of scores into grades as shown in the table. One skill, “Communicating Accurately and Precisely,” assesses the accuracy and application of content or conventions for a particular task, and this skill is graded on a 5-point proficiency rubric. In the Platform, teachers and students will see a percent score (i.e.: 100%, 85%, 70%, etc.) for the different levels so that it’s clear what percent score the levels of the proficiency rubric correspond to.

  • Just like all other Cognitive Skills, the highest score for this skill is averaged with the other high scores per skill to calculate the overall Cognitive Skills score.

In the Summit Learning Program, students demonstrate mastery with a grade of A, B, or C. Anything below as C is considered “off track” (there are no Ds). If an 8th grader, for example, has a Cognitive Skills Score average below a 3, then his/her grade would show up as an “off-track,” (which translates to an F) until he/she is able to bring her Cognitive Skills Score average over 3.

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Questions About Grading


1. Will I get a report card?

Yes, you will get a report card at the end of the year when grades are final. One of the best parts about having the Summit Learning Platform available to you at all times is that any time you want to see your child’s grades you can!

2. Will my student still earn credits?

Yes, your student will earn credit for their classes at the end of the year. The credit amount will vary based upon how your school assigns credits to courses.

3. Why is there only one grade at the end of the year?

We want to make sure that our grading system reflects the values of our program, and, given that we value the growth that students make each year, we want to make sure that our grades take growth into account. At the end of the year, we will be able to fully account for all of your child’s learning.

4. What does an incomplete mean?

An incomplete means that your child still has work to do to pass his/her course. Specifically, a student earns an incomplete in a course when:

  1. There is an overdue project
  2. The average cognitive skills score is below passing for their respective grade level
  3. The number of power focus areas is not “on-track” to finish by the end of the year

An incomplete means that a student needs to fix one or more of the above problems. If your student has an incomplete, he/she needs to meet with his/her mentor and/or project time teacher to make a plan to resolve the academic performance issue.

5. Does the school ever give an “F”?

Yes. When a student does not make up his/her incomplete after an agreed upon time, the incomplete turns into an “F”. An “F” grade means that no credit was earned.

6.What are the grade level cognitive skill scores?

The grade level cognitive skill scores are:

Grade Level 70% (C) 85% (B) 100% (A)
3 0.5 1.5 2.5
4 1 2 3
5 1.5 2.5 3.5
6 2 3 4
7 2.5 3.5 4.5
8 3 4 5
9 3.5 4.5 5.5
10 4 5 6
11 4.5 5.5 6.5
12 5 6 7

7. How do math concept unit scores translate into percentage grades?

The concept unit scores translate as follows:
Math Concept Score Percentage Grade
1 40%
2 55%
3 70%
4 85%
5 100%

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Videos/Presentations

How To Log In

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