This letter was shared in October 2023 on Summit Public School’s Medium. Cady Ching, CEO of Summit Public Schools, discusses the past and future relationship between Gradient Learning and Summit Public Schools, as well as their future vision to support students in their charter network. We are sharing it in full below.
One of our partners, Gradient Learning, recently announced that they are transitioning their Summit Learning program to a different learning management system. We recognize this may cause confusion about Summit Public Schools’ relationship with Gradient. I am sharing this note to bring clarity to the work of Summit Public Schools and to extend an invitation to collaborate into the future.
In 2003, Summit Public Schools was born from the vision of what public education could and should be. We were founded on a belief that all students could graduate from college. After 10 years, we engaged in a deep dive with our outcome data and discovered that Summit alumni were graduating college at twice the national average, but only 55% of our students graduated from a college or university after graduation. We were not achieving our goal. We needed to do things differently.
We recognized a need for more intentional personalization at our schools and sought to develop a tool to support our model of Mentorship, Self Directed Learning, and Project-based Curriculum. We called our personalized approach to teaching and learning “Summit Learning.” With incredible help from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Summit Public Schools created the Summit Learning Program and began training schools across the country on our school model.
The core teams at Summit Public Schools remained focused on running excellent charter schools while the Summit Learning Program (SLP) team members shifted their focus to the network of partner schools across the country. In 2019, we affirmed our focus on our own Summit schools and a new organization, Gradient Learning, was formed to exclusively operate the “Summit Learning” program. In the years since, Gradient Learning pursued their own priorities and vision for education, while continuing to use the “Summit Learning” name.
Here at Summit Public Schools, we created Marshall Street Initiatives to continue developing shareable solutions to locally felt, globally evident problems in the public education system, redesigned our Expeditions program to center partnerships and authentic choice, and launched our Concrete Next Step program.
Today, Summit Public Schools is once again modeling courageous improvement and collaborative leadership in the public education sector to address the inequities that have come out of the “college for all” framework. We recently evolved our mission to state: “To collectively prepare a diverse community of young people with the skills, knowledge, and habits to attain economic empowerment and success in a chosen concrete next step toward a fulfilled life” and are working diligently in our schools to empower students to pursue postsecondary pathways through our ground-breaking Concrete Next Step (CNS) program. Through our personalized and coherent model, each Summit student leaves with a thoughtful, purpose-driven plan for life after graduation. We will soon invite folks into our schools to see this work in action and to be in conversation with us about our learnings.
I’d like to celebrate Andrew Goldin of Gradient Learning as he transitions out of his role as Executive Director and welcome Monica Milligan to the helm. We look forward to the important work Gradient will take on next. Here at Summit, we will continue to expand our network of trusted partners and invite others to join us in our work. Please feel free to reach out at email@example.com.
Cady Ching, Summit Public Schools CEO