Grantee: Summit Public Schools
At a Glance:
School: Summit Denali
Opening: Fall 2013
Grades Served: 6–12
Location: Silicon Valley, CA
Operator: Summit Public Schools
Operator Type: Charter
Students at Opening: 100
Students at Capacity: 700
When Summit Public Schools examined its portfolio of California schools looking for areas to improve, the end goal was clear—college and career readiness—but school developers struggled to find room for change within their existing model.
The existing model was already rigorous, with all students participating in a college-prep curriculum, including at least six Advanced Placement courses before graduation. The schools were already leveraging digital content in the classroom to help provide differentiated instruction and remediation. But the very design of the traditional school—four walls around a classroom and students grouped by grades—was making it impossible to truly think outside the box.
What the school needed was to tear down the walls and remove the barriers separating teachers and students from learning.
In the fall of 2013, Summit’s “Optimized School Model” will debut with the opening of Summit Denali in Silicon Valley. Summit plans to break down silos between grades and content to allow students to move at their own pace, both academically and physically.
Driven by the belief that every minute of every day provides an opportunity for students to learn, Summit Denali’s design converts the significant time that students spend away from school—that is, evenings, weekends, vacations, and summer break—into a valuable learning opportunity. The model enables this through three elements: a robust, custom-built LMS; continuous student access to content and assessments, and an Intersession program that regularly offers all students intensive, hands-on opportunities to apply their skills and knowledge, explore their passions and interests, investigate careers, and learn outside the school walls.
Summit is creating an open learning space where students can work on digital content in individual workstations. These workstations will be surrounded by learning spaces for small-group learning, one-to-one coaching and mentoring, and larger-group workshops and seminars.
The individual workstations will be the gateway to the online LMS, which will give individual students (and parents) real-time access to a student’s personalized learning plan, content, and assessments. These assessments will track competency in three main areas: High School Ready, College Ready, and Early College. Each day, students will log in to see an individualized list of what they need to master and a playlist of learning options (such as digital content, hands-on activities, or group discussions). Teams of educators will regularly meet with students to monitor progress on the plan, set goals, evaluate performance, and facilitate continued achievement.
In Summit’s Optimized School Model, the teacher’s role shifts from independent contractor to team member. Rather than be assigned to an individual grade, teachers will work together in teams with fluid sets of students to provide high-quality, face-to-face learning experiences. Students will progress through learning phases by demonstrating competency in the skills, knowledge, behaviors, dispositions, and engagement needed to succeed in college, career, and community. Teams of educators might include both certified and nontraditional teachers, such as tutors, learning coaches, and data experts.
The school will also include a hallmark of the Summit model: a multiweek Intersession program (held at different times of the year) that gives students the freedom to engage in a course, internship, or project that explores areas of interest or potential careers. During Intersession, Summit students work full time on courses ranging from digital arts and theater to robotics and community-service projects. At Denali, Intersession experiences will integrate with the development of the behaviors and dispositions they need to succeed in college, career, and life.
Summit Denali is just one stop along a “College Ready Corridor” that Summit is building in California. The charter network currently operates four schools, with plans to open 10 more over the next decade to serve 6,000 students across Silicon Valley. In all cases, lessons learned from individual models help refine and influence the entire cohort moving forward.
- Profile: This at-a-glance document summarizes the key features of this grantee’s breakthrough model through graphics and quick facts. It offers important information about the instructional and financial models, student demographics, hardware and software choices, and contact info. http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/NG1216.pdf
- Application Deck: This video offers a snapshot of this grantee’s breakthrough model in its early planning stages outlining the goals, learning environments, and business model. It was originally created as a narrated PowerPoint deck included in their application to the NGLC Breakthrough Models grant competition.