What is Summit Learning?

Whenever we’re talking to a new set of parents, teachers, or administrators, the very first question they ask is, “So, what is Summit Learning.”

To put it simply, Summit Learning is a new way to educate students, that’s based on nearly a century of education research and best practices. It is designed to drive student engagement, strong student-teacher relationships, and mastery-based learning.

Our program equips teachers with tools and resources that ensure every student is motivated and supported to reach their potential—both within the classroom and beyond. 

With Summit Learning, students get a full understanding of the subjects they’re learning—and more importantly—how they can use what they’ve learned in the real world.

What does Summit Learning look like in the classroom?

If you were to walk into a traditional classroom, you’re likely to see a teacher standing in front and lecturing to the entire class, who are taking notes. This is the basis of how classes have been run for the past hundred years. But, when you look a little deeper you’ll probably see some of the lower-performing students struggling, and the more advanced students looking bored. That’s because the teacher is forced to talk to the “average” student in the class, who normally doesn’t exist.

In a Summit Learning classroom, there’s still a teacher, who still teaches. However, they’re able to concentrate on helping the students who need help more directly. Then, they can push the advanced students to do even more and make sure everyone else is staying on track.

The students themselves will probably be working in small groups. Each one working together to complete a given project, which can be anything from an interactive science experiment to a lively debate.

Outside of how the students are grouped, the biggest difference is that, in our classrooms, they aren’t just learning facts to ace a test. They’re developing mastery of lifelong skills that they can use after graduation. Think of it this way, if a student is learning about the War of 1812, instead of learning the names of all the battles, they’ll be learning about how governments and organizations function under pressure.

What’s the deal with mentoring?

Mentoring is one of the most important parts of the Summit Learning program. Every week, each of our students meets with their mentor to discuss not only academic pursuits, but also how life is outside of the classroom. Working with their mentor (normally a teacher, counselor, or school leader), the students will set their short- and long-term goals, and develop a plan to reach those goals. Every week the mentor can also act as a coordinator, making sure that all of a student’s teachers are on the same page when it comes to their individual development and growth.

Another key aspect of mentoring is that it allows students to choose their own path for their education, with their mentor’s guidance. This is what’s known as self-directed learning, and is why all of the students in a classroom may be working on different projects, but they’re all developing mastery of the subject matter.

About the author

Summit Learning
Summit Learning is a research–based approach to education designed to drive student engagement, meaningful learning, and strong student–teacher relationships that prepare students for life after graduation. Created by teachers with experience in diverse classrooms, Summit Learning is grounded in decades of research about how children learn. With Summit Learning, students gain mastery of core subjects like math, history, English, and science, while also carefully developing the skills and habits of lifelong learners. Summit Learning is independently led and operated by the nonprofit, Gradient Learning.