Two middle schools in Kentucky’s Boone County Public School District adopted the Summit Learning program – one of the more frequently discussed digital learning programs – in the 2016-17 school year. We now have two years of KPREP test results for those schools to examine, and I start that process with mathematics changes.
For a little background, Summit originated in California’s Summit Charter Schools around seven years ago and was made available to the Boone County system by Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame, who operates a foundation that finances programs to help teachers get up to speed on how Summit works and to supply the digital support needed.
At least, that is what should happen. But, the implementation of Summit Learning in Boone County was problematic, as you can learn by clicking the “Read more” link below.
For those already up to speed on Summit, let’s look at some actual KPREP results after Summit Learning’s first two years in Boone County’s Camp Ernst Middle School and Conner Middle School.
These tables and graphs compare the KPREP math results for different student groups in Camp Ernst and Connor to the Kentucky statewide middle school average results (click on graphic to enlarge if necessary). The far-right column in each table shows the change in KPREP math proficiency rates between 2015-16 and 2017-18 for each of the listed student groups. When the proficiency rates went down for a student group in a school, the change is shaded in salmon color.
There are obvious reasons for concern here. Most student groups, and the student body as a whole (All Students) in both middle schools saw a reduction in their proficiency rate in middle school math between 2015-16 and 2017-18.
In both schools, the “all student” math proficiency rate dropped by over 3 percentage points between 2015-16 and 2017-18. In contrast, the state math proficiency rate stayed perfectly flat, so the Summit program’s students fell behind in math over the past two years.
In Camp Ernst, no student group saw math improvement as of the end of year two of Summit Learning.
In Conner, only African-Americans and Hispanics saw improvement over Summit’s first two years of operation. However, while Hispanic improvement quite substantially improved in Conner, that performance stands in very sharp contrast to the Hispanic performance in Camp Ernst, where Hispanic math proficiency dropped quite substantially.
When we examine the statewide average middle school trends, most student groups saw their math proficiency very slightly increase or remain stable between 2015-16 and 2017-18 while the African-American and Hispanic drops were both less than one percentage point.
Several student groups in particular had problems in Summit’s first two years. Students with learning disabilities and those eligible for the federal school lunch program both saw drops in proficiency in both Boone County schools.
Even worse, the students with learning disabilities in both schools performed notably below the math proficiency rate for their counterparts across Kentucky. That is particularly problematic because Boone County is an upscale system by Kentucky’s standards.
The below statewide average math performance for students in the school lunch program in Camp Ernst and the not-much-better-than-statewide average in Conner are also problematic.
White students saw math proficiencies decay in both schools. Of special concern is that drop in white scores in 2016-17 in Camp Ernst that brought that school’s proficiency rate below the statewide average for white students. Camp Ernst’s whites fell still further behind their statewide counterparts in 2017-18.
So, at the end of year two of Summit Learning in these two Boone County schools, the results certainly don’t look very encouraging for math. Clearly, Summit Learning certainly isn’t an instantaneous silver bullet and this program needs very close attention.