Case Study: Woonsocket Students Own Learning, Outperform Peers


In 2013, district leadership in the small, suburban school district of Woonsocket in Rhode Island began searching for a holistic program that would set their students up for success in school, college, and beyond. After district leaders and teachers from the Woonsocket Education Department (WED) visited and saw the Summit Learning approach in action at a Summit school in California, they decided to implement the Summit Learning Program in 2016 with a voluntary group of 8th graders and their teachers.

After one year, the 8th graders at Woonsocket Middle School using the approach outperformed their non-Summit Learning peers on the state’s annual PARCC assessment in math and reading by an average of 10 percentage points.

The embedded case study below highlights student growth and engagement in learning through projects and the Summit Learning Program.

Assistant Superintendent Jenny Chan-Remka has also observed a shift in students’ mindset toward learning: “Summit Learning students take their learning more seriously. These kids are taking ownership of their education and they understand that what they do now has an impact on their future.”

Student and teacher success has also been dependent on restructuring supports and systems to better align with the approach, such as increasing collaborative planning time for teachers.

With strong district support, Woonsocket expanded the Program in 2017-18 to a total of 200 students and 10 teachers in grades 7-8 at the district’s sole middle school, as well as grades 9-10 in the district’s PTECH program (Pathways in Technology Early College High School). The Woonsocket School District is proud to also continue its partnership with New England (NE) Basecamp, a local organization that works with schools in support of their Summit Learning implementation. NE Basecamp coaches are currently going through a process to be trained and certified by Summit.

This post is part of series of case studies highlighting a variety of schools currently implementing the Summit Learning approach.

About the author

Lauren Faggella
A storyteller and former educator, Lauren Faggella is dedicated to turning the Summit Learning community's stories and ideas into great content that informs and inspires a range of audiences. Prior to joining Summit Public Schools, Lauren was a professional freelance writer and third-grade teacher in Rhode Island. She earned her MEd from the University of Rhode Island and BA in English from Elon University.