Myth vs. Fact

  • Myth: With Summit Learning, students spend most of their time on the computer.

    • With Summit Learning, students spend the majority of their time working with their classmates and teachers on real-world projects in the classroom. They may access the Platform to track their progress or understand their next checkpoint; then, they spend Project Time demonstrating application of learning.
    • There is no set amount of screen time. Instead, students are empowered to use the Platform as a tool to support their learning, enabling them to access content in a way that meets their learning style and showing them their progress towards their goals.
    • This article from the Hechinger Report describes how teachers—not computers—are at the heart of Summit Learning. And this article from Education Next explores what Summit Learning looks like in the classroom.


    Myth: My student’s data is not safe with Summit Learning.

    • Summit Public Schools — which operates the Summit Learning Platform nationwide — is a nonprofit school organization that operates schools across California and Washington state. Protecting student data privacy is the top priority for both Summit and our district.
      • Summit is a signing member of the Future of Privacy Forum’s Student Privacy Pledge. Summit also voluntarily complies with COPPA and has designed the Platform to be compliant with FERPA.  
      • Summit has access only to a limited amount of student information that our school (or the student) shares with them, and Summit only uses that information to provide and improve the Summit Learning Platform.
      • Summit uses student information to provide professional development and coaching to schools. Engineers use Platform data to troubleshoot technical issues and make improvements—like new features and improved navigation.
    • Summit puts strict limits on who can access student data, and Summit also requires all third-party providers to comply with its privacy and data security policies, ensuring that partners have the same protections in place that Summit does.


    Myth: Teachers are no longer teaching. My student is learning mostly on the computer.

    • Teachers are an integral part of the entire education experience, from leading projects to coaching students and guiding them through content in class. In a Summit Learning environment, instead of standing at the front of the classroom and providing direct instruction for an hour, a teacher may do several different activities depending on what their students need. They may teach content knowledge via direct instruction to the entire class, create small group workshops to help a group of students who have the same question or need, or provide targeted interventions 1-on-1 when a student has an issue with a subject.


    Myth: Students don’t know how to self-direct their learning. It’s up to the teachers to teach them.

    • Self-direction is an essential skill for success in college, career and life. With Summit Learning, students are gradually given more control over their learning. This is not the same as being left on their own.
    • With self-directed learning, students can move at their own pace and learn how they best learn because they have different options to learn the same information. They aren’t pushed too far ahead of what they are ready for, nor bored because they already know it.
    • In Summit Learning, students have not only the support of their teachers, but of a dedicated mentor who will work with them to help support and coach them towards their personal goals. During mentor time, teachers check in with students about their academic progress and provide coaching as students focus on mastering content knowledge to apply in projects. With mentoring and support of teachers, students develop the skills to set and achieve goals for their learning, becoming more engaged and more motivated.
    • This video highlights a Chicago middle school student who went from being discouraged about school and not wanting to go to school to being excited and even helping her peers on projects in the classroom.


    Myth: There’s no evidence that Summit is effective.

    • Summit Learning is based on more than 100 years of science and research on learning, as well as Summit’s 15 years’ experience graduating all students college ready. The pillars of Summit Learning aren't new—they represent what excellent teachers have done (or been wanting to do) for years, and they take those practices to the next level.
    • Summit Learning schools report promising progress, including gains in test scores, greater student engagement, increased attendance, and better behavior.
    • Summit Learning students achieved an academic year’s worth of growth in math and reading. On average, Summit Learning students who started the furthest behind made the biggest academic gains. 
    • These case studies of Summit Learning schools show the positive impact that Summit Learning has on student achievement and engagement. Check out this infographic to see the century of research on learning that has contributed to the development of Summit Learning


    Myth: The Summit Learning Platform contains inappropriate content.

    • Summit Learning resources have been developed by teachers. They are a collection of meaningful projects, concept units, and playlists of content and assessments, all available on the Summit Learning Platform.
    • The Platform includes links to thousands of external education resourcesfrom websites to videosthat the Summit team works hard to vet. These resources are selected because they provide valuable supporting information or extra detail to help a student understand a focus area, or help them study a topic for a content assessment. Summit does not control ads or content on sites outside of the Platform. Similar to challenges we have in other classes with print and digital resources, we rely on our educators and parents to ensure our resources reflect the expectations of the community we serve. A benefit of digital resources is that they are easily updated, replaced, and/or removed. With print resources we have less flexibility in making modifications. It usually requires eliminating an entire resource, blackening out sections, or taping over material that doesn't meet expectations.
    • Teachers can customize content, projects, and resources within the Platform to fit their local context and the needs of their students.
    • Students’ experience working with content on the Platform mirrors the real world, where they will have to think critically about the information they encounter and choose the right resources.


    Myth: Students with 504s and IEPs are not supported with Summit Learning.

    • The Summit Learning Program was developed to support diverse learners, and it is ideal for this because teachers are able to easily personalize the work that students are doing and the content they are working on. It is also built to allow teachers to provide the necessary scaffolds and interventions for any student.
    • All students on IEPs and 504s are supported in accordance with their plans. Inclusion students receive instruction in the classroom which is led by co-teachers: a general education and a special education teacher. Students that require small group services outside the classroom receive direct instruction from their special education teacher during Project Time and/or PLT. This year, students on IEPs and 504s are also learning more about their plans, including what accommodations work best for them and how to advocate for themselves.
    • Teachers have received extensive training and coaching in various intervention methods and accommodations. These interventions can be based on academics, behavior and student focus and motivation. Teachers work together to monitor student progress and provided interventions as needed.

    This Summit Learning blog post shares the experience of one teacher and parent whose student has a 504 plan and is a Summit Learning student.