Summit Learning

Quick Facts

Grading

Current Teachers

FAQ on Grades

Why is grading changing to mastery based? How will this new approach to grading help my student?

What does the grades in the Summit Learning show?

Grades show the competencies that students have developed, as well as their growth. At Milpitas High School, classes utilizing Summit Learning, grades reflect the fact that students will be growing and improving in their abilities throughout the year.

Why mastery learning?

Mastery learning and skills-based grading are a shift from traditional grading. Summit Learning grades are based in what students can demonstrate they have learned. Grades are calculated based on a combination of performance on Cognitive Skills in Projects or Math Concepts in Units, and an understanding of content in Power Focus Areas.

In the past, students were able to obtain high grades by just participating in class, doing their homework, and studying last minute to pass tests. Students now have to master the content and the skills necessary for higher level thinking for success after high school.

Incompletes - Why does my student’s grade say “Incomplete,” and why does Summit use “Incomplete” instead of the traditional A, B, C, D, F grades that I had when I was in school?

A student earns an “Incomplete” in a class for one up to three reasons: Their Cognitive Skills in the course have a combined average of less than 70%, they are not on pace - as defined by the line in the Platform - to finish all of the Power Focus Areas they are expected to complete for the class, and/or they have not turned in a required Project by the due date.

In math, a student earns an “Incomplete” in a class for one of the following reasons: Their Concept skills in the course have a combined average of less than 70%, they are not on pace - as defined by the line in the Platform - to finish all of the Power Focus Areas they are expected to complete for the class, and/or they have not turned in a required Project by the due date.

Why?


Why give an “Incomplete” if a student has low Cognitive Skill scores?

“Incomplete” grades are given to students who are earning less than 70% on Cognitive Skills in a class because the Summit Learning Program believes students who are earning skill scores over 70% are equipped with the real-world abilities they need to succeed.

Before Summit Learning, students could pass a class with a “D” grade. This promotes them to the next course, but it does not show evidence that the student has mastered the required skills to successfully engage and perform at the next level of their learning.

Instead of the traditional grading system where students are able to get a low grade and still move on, grading based on mastery holds each student to a high standard based on what is appropriate to their skill level.

Why give an “Incomplete” if a student is “Off Track” in Power Focus Areas?

The Summit Learning curriculum is designed for the content taught in each Power Focus Area to align with the Project being taught at that same time. If students are behind the pacing line on their content, they are missing critical knowledge required to fully engage and succeed on the Project being taught in that class at that time.

Before Summit Learning, students did not see the connection or relevance of the work they were doing in class each day.

Keeping pace with the line in the Platform helps students develop the skill of self-direction, which is valuable for real-world success.


Why give an “Incomplete” if a student has an overdue Project?

The Summit Learning curriculum is designed with relevant and real world Projects that meet statewide standards. Summit Learning believes students must complete all Projects in a course in order to fully master the standards of that course and earn promotion to the next level in that subject.

Before Summit Learning, students could avoid completing an assignment that taught important and meaningful content and skills while still passing the class and promoting to the next level. This enables avoidant behavior and does not develop valuable life-long habits.

Students are now held responsible for mastering the required skills and content necessary to meet grade level state standards.


Why give an “Incomplete” if a student has low Concept scores?

The Summit Learning Math Curriculum is designed with Performance Tasks for students to take. The Performance Tasks give an opportunity for the students to show mastery of the core Math Concepts a student must understand to engage in the Projects and Power Focus Areas for math class.

“Incomplete” grades are given to students who are earning less than 70% on Concept scores because Summit Learning values students being prepared to succeed. Summit Learning believes students must display mastery of Concept scores at a level of 70% or higher in order for students to be successful in college and career.

Before Summit Learning, students could pass a class with a “D” grade. This promotes them to the next course, but it does not show evidence that the student has mastered the required skills to successfully engage and perform at the next level of their learning.


Additionals

Question: What are “Additional Focus Areas” and does my student have to do them?

What?


Students who want an additional challenge should try to pass “Additional Focus Areas” only when they are on-track in their Power Focus Areas, all of their Projects are turned in on time, and their average Cognitive/Concept Skill scores in the class are above 70%. Additional Focus Areas are not required content; they may be recommended to a student by their teacher or mentor.


A full description of “Additional Focus Areas” and their grade value can be found here.

Why?


Summit Learning values students being challenged just enough to grow but not so challenged that they become frustrated and quit. Learning science has shown that the appropriate level of challenge leads to the highest levels of engagement in course work.

Before Summit Learning, students would only finish what was required, and many students would be bored in class and working below their full potential.

Now, students have the opportunity to push their learning, deepen their understanding in areas they find interesting, and see it reflected in their final grade.


Cognitive Skills

Question: What are “Cognitive Skills” and why does Summit Learning use them?

What?


Cognitive Skills are the research-backed skills Summit Learning uses across all grade levels and subjects to assess whether or not a student has shown the mastery necessary in a grade to eventually reach college and career readiness. These skills, like developing an argumentative claim, are universally graded on the same rubric, which is determined by grade level. Students who master these skills can apply them in a variety of contexts to solve a variety of real world problems.


A full description of Cognitive Skills can be found here.

Why?


Summit Learning wants every child to develop the skills to thrive and contribute to the changing world.

Before Summit Learning, students would only learn content and memorize facts, which are not flexible or relevant to the tasks they would need to tackle in their future professions.

Now, students see how they are growing consistently from one grade level to the next because they are being graded along the same scale, instead of just learning facts in isolated moments that they soon forget.


Power Focus Areas

Question: What are “Power Focus Areas” and why does Summit Learning use them?

What?


Each Power Focus Area is a ten question quiz a student must pass to show content knowledge related to a specific course. Each course is made up of multiple Power Focus Areas, and each Power Focus Area has a number of multimedia resources for a student to learn from so that they pass the ten question quiz. A student may take the Power Focus Area Content Assessment as many times as they need to pass it (by scoring at least 8/10); however, if a student fails an assessment more than a few times, his or her teacher or mentor will intervene to help him/her determine how to move forward.


A full description of Power Focus Areas can be found here.

Why?


Students need to have foundational content knowledge of a subject. For example, they need to know the causes of the American Revolution before they can complete a Project where they make a presentation that argues whether or not the war was necessary.

All students learn in different ways, so Power Focus Areas give students multimedia resources to choose from so that they are learning in the way that is best for them.

Before Summit Learning, if a student didn’t pass a quiz, they would just forget it and move on to the next thing without actually learning the content or being held responsible for their work habits.

Learning science has shown that a large percentage of learning happens in letting students persist through struggles and challenges.


The Pacing Line

Question: What is “The Line” and how does my student use it?

What?


The vertical line in every student’s Summit Learning Platform is the pacing line, and it indicates where a student should be today in order to be on track, or on-pace, to complete a given course by the end of the school year. Projects and Focus Areas to the left of the line are either completed or behind schedule, while all Projects and Focus Areas to the right of the line are upcoming in the school year.

Why?


The pacing line helps students build the skill of self-direction. This means students see upcoming due dates for Projects and Power Focus Areas and they can set goals for themselves to stay on pace with the class.

Before Summit Learning, a student would not have a plan in place to complete all of the work they needed to finish in the time they were given to finish it.

Having a visual of their progress for the year gives students a built in sense of urgency to accomplish the goals they set to stay on pace with the course, and it may help them procrastinate less.