Thursday, May 30, 2019

Why Did the Cheshire, CT School District Discontinue the Summit Learning Program?

The Summit Learning initiative is a personalized learning program sponsored
by Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. 380 school districts throughout the U.S are
currently participating. Cheshire, CT schools opted-in for grades 5 through 8 but
withdrew from the program after about three months. The reasons given included:

  • Flaws in the organization of the program, including assessments where students
found ways of cheating by finding the answer page.
  • Student dissatisfaction with the time spent on computers minimizing interaction
with their teachers.
  • Parent dissatisfaction.
  • The appearance of inappropriate images when students went to third-party
websites for reading assignments.

While not all students and parents expressed dissatisfaction, those that did became very
vocal leading to the superintendent’s termination of the program. Failure could have been
minimized had the district undertaken better preparation, including:

  • Requiring the provider to activate a full-proof filtering system that would block
inappropriate content.
  • Requiring each teacher to take all lessons as if they were a student prior to
class implementation.
  • Giving students and parents the option of participating in the program.
  • Consider a program that increases student-teacher dialogue; e.g. online
instruction followed by class discussion and student interaction.
  • More involvement of parents by having them experience first-hand how the
program works.