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 the first year of KPREP test results for those schools to examine, and I’ll be doing that in a couple of blogs over the next few weeks.
For a little background, Summit originated in California’s Summit Charter Schools around six 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 has been 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 year in Boone County’s Camp Ernst Middle School and Conner Middle School. I’ll start with math, because this is where the picture seems clearest, and most problematic.
These tables and graphs compare the KPREP 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 2016-17 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 2016-17.
In Camp Ernst, only the African-American students saw math improvement at the end of year one of Summit Learning. In Conner, only African-Americans and Hispanics saw improvement. However, while the Hispanic improvement was quite substantially improved in Conner, that performance stands in very sharp contrast to the Hispanic performance in Camp Ernst, where Hispanic math proficiency dropped even more substantially.
When we examine the statewide average middle school trends, all student groups either saw their math proficiency remain essentially stable (the African-American drop was very small) or increase across the entire state of Kentucky between 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Several student groups in particular had problems in Summit’s year one. 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 also saw math proficiency decay in both schools. Of special concern is that drop in white scores in 2016-17 in Camp Ernst that brought that proficiency rate below the statewide average for white students.
So, at the end of year one of Summit Learning in these two Boone County schools, you could say the program might help African-Americans a bit in math, but lots of other student groups paying a penalty for that.
Still, this is only year one of the program, which Boone County educators have admitted suffered some implementation headaches. So, while Summit Learning certainly isn’t an instantaneous silver bullet, it’s too soon to declare failure, as well.