Benefits of WPSD's Summit Learning Platform | Guest Column – Colorado Springs Gazette

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I am a parent of a WPMS student who has been in WPSD her entire school career. The Summit Learning Platform has been unfairly vilified by the vocal minority.
Parents and the board of education should take the time to find out about the benefits of Summit and what an SLP classroom looks like. Teachers deliver whole-group instruction utilizing powerpoints, videos, whiteboards, paper, pencil and books. Students conduct hands-on lab experiments in science and write lab reports. In math, students practice math problems on paper. They work to solve word problems using standard mathematical concepts taught by the teacher, who gives multiple visual examples of how to work problems.
Students read actual books in language arts classes, have class discussions and teacher-guided analysis of those books, as well as teacher instruction of writing and reading skills. Students read multiple texts, view videos, conduct research in social studies and work to synthesize information into evidenced-based writing and projects.
In all courses, students work independently as well as in groups. Students who may understand a concept more quickly are able to move forward instead of having to wait for the rest of the class.
Conversely, students who need more time to understand concepts are not rushed to move on to the next thing even if they are “lost.” Teachers in a Summit classroom are able to spend MORE time with individuals and small groups, providing the “human touch” that all children need.
Students are on computers in a Summit classroom some of the time. Many jobs are now working remotely on computers. Students in a Summit classroom are gaining valuable skills for the future.
In some classes, students may be on the computer only once or twice a week. All resources and content assessments may be printed if needed. Students have time during the day to work on projects and content areas, choosing what they will work on and the resources, on and off the computer, they will use to complete their work. Depending on their choices, they may work with classmates on a group project, in a small group with a teacher, or independently.
Another key aspect of SLP is mentoring. Every student has dedicated one-on-one time with their mentor teacher every 1-2 weeks. This is an amazing opportunity for teachers to connect with students. It truly brings the human touch to the classroom. Summit empowers students, teachers and parents. Students have an opportunity to direct much of their learning through their choices. 70% of a student’s grade comes from cognitive skill scores on projects. Most cog skills being scored in a course are found in two or more projects. The best cog skill scores are what determines a student’s overall project grade. This means if a student does not demonstrate proficiency on a cog skill in an early project, but later has a better understanding and shows solid proficiency,their grade shows the proficiency. Example: Project 1, a 6th grade student scores a 1 on cog skill “A,” resulting in 50% grade. Project 2, the same student now scores a 3 on cog skill “A” resulting in an 80% grade. Student has gone from failing to a “B.”
In a non-Summit class, the scores would be averaged to a 65%, a “D.” Students on SLP can more easily improve their grade as they demonstrate proficiency.
For teachers, Summit provides a level of data at the click of a button they would otherwise spend many hours to collect. This allows teachers to inform their instruction,making needed changes to meet students’ needs quickly. It enables them to set up small groups to target skills and concepts. They can add new resources to the platform, delete out-of-date resources, and add/delete projects so curriculum is in line with WPSD and state standards.
Parents can log on to their student’s platform to see content assessments and projects they are working on,review resources,see up-to-date progress, specific feedback,read any comments teachers have made,& see when their student turned in an assignment. As a parent, I love that I can see what my child is doing anytime. I am not reliant on a teacher emailing or calling, or waiting for a report card at the end of a term.
Because of SLP, WPSD was able to more easily transition into remote learning in March 2020. Many districts in the state and across the country stalled their teaching, with students’ 3rd quarter grades becoming their final grade. Students were not expected to continue learning. WP scaled back, but still kept moving forward. Students already had a system to access their resources and work, and were expected to progress in their learning. Test scores are proving students in WPSD are learning well using SLP.
Finally, the cost for the many benefits of SLP is $0. There is no licensing fee, set-up charges, charges for “Help” support from Summit, cost for staff training or for the multiple resources for teachers, including a live “Chat” function.
For the sake of students in WPSD, including my own, I hope the BOE will take a step back and reevaluate their preconceived ideas about Summit.
Annie Thomas is a resident of Woodland Park.


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