Khan Academy at Summit Public Schools (grades 9-12)
The 2011-2012 school year was a transformative one for Summit Public Schools. What started out as a blended learning math pilot in our two San Jose schools has fundamentally reshaped the model of our next generation schools, the first two of which will open in the fall of 2013. The pilot’s success has influenced how these schools will look and feel, as well as how students will interact with teachers and progress through learning levels.As an organization, Summit Public Schools is focused on preparing all students not only to attend but to succeed in four-year colleges and beyond. To better meet that goal, we began, in the summer of 2011, to explore ways to accelerate our students’ learning. We were especially interested in addressing academic gaps that dated back to elementary and middle school. Our belief was that technology offered us the ability to create a more personalized learning environment for every individual student, delivering exactly what they need, when they need it and how they need it.
Step one: Testing the model
Step two: Optimizing the whole school
- Reimagining the physical classroom and school environment by removing walls to create an open architecture learning space that accommodates all learning styles, as well as individual workstations for students. This open architecture allows for the natural flow of ideas among teachers and students. It is a re-envisioning of what a school looks like, as well as of how a student learns and an educator teaches. The school design is completely centered around accommodating the personalized pathways and learning styles of individual students in order to address what each needs to be successful in college and beyond.
- Redesigning teacher roles to move towards teams of educators, which can include teachers, learning coaches, intervention specialists and data analysts. These teams work together to provide high-quality, face-to-face learning experiences for students, while allowing technology to drive individualized learning, data and create a robust loop of information. Teams of educators can provide one-to-one tutoring and coaching, small group learning experiences, workshops and labs, as well as larger group experiences such as Socratic seminars, presentations or case studies.
- Removing the restrictions of traditional grade levels to give students the true freedom to move at their own pace. Students are placed in one of three learning phases - High School Ready, College Ready and Early College - and progress through them, based upon mastery of all the standards of a learning phase. Evaluation of this progress depends on mastery of key skills such as goal setting, time management, study skills, persistence, initiative or self-direction, task completion and responsibility, as well as academic standards.
- Empowering students to take charge of their own learning by shifting away from the teacher-directed rotations (e.g., between digital learning and face-to-face instruction) typical of most blended environments. In our optimized school model, students can fully self-direct their learning. Students log-on to a learning management system each day to select a customized learningplaylist, including online apps and other programs, that helps them move through a set of personalized learning goals. Mentorship from and interaction with educator teams helps ensure they are on the right path.