School board votes on next steps for Summit learning platformMar 16, 2023 01:05PM ● By Becky Ginos
FARMINGTON—The debate over the learning platform Summit used in the Davis School District has been going on for quite some time. The Board of Education has heard from many parents who believe Summit has caused their children to lose confidence and get lower grades. After months of discussion, the board considered the next course of action at last week’s meeting.
Before taking a final vote, board members were given the opportunity to express their opinion on the program and what should be done.
“I’ve been on the board a long time,” said Board Vice President Brigit Gerrard. “We’ve studied Summit and I’ve listened to feedback and genuinely tried to understand concerns.”
Parents are passionate about their student’s education, she said. “Administration and teachers have spent time and effort to help students and parents. It’s not perfect but I don’t think anything is perfect. I think it needs to be addressed at the individual school level and identify those students who are struggling from data at each school and provide options.”
“We need to look at the bigger picture moving forward,” said Board President Liz Mumford. “Some schools are having great success with Summit and others are not.”
Mumford said first they need to identify students and parents who are struggling then create a structure at schools to find the barriers and make a site-based decision as much as possible. “We also need to create a digital learning task force made up of board members to look at adopting platforms and make long-term plans for digital learning and allocate resources to that,” she said. “It’s a new realm for us so we want to put the best minds into moving forward because we’re going to be making decisions like this in the future so we need to make sure it’s a really thoughtful process.”
“The schools we’re talking about that are using Summit are successful,” said board member John Robison. “What we’re really talking about are the students that are struggling. When I get an email from a parent that says their child is struggling my ears perk up. The solution to a problem with a student struggling no matter what system they’re in is at the lowest level possible which is at the school.”
Robison said the input he’s received from special education teachers is that for the first time using Summit they could get to those kids. “I talked to one teacher whose son has an IEP and flourished at Farmington High for the first time in his life. It gave him a sense of belonging.”
The board absolutely needs to be sensitive and listen to what the public is saying, he said. “That’s an integral part of what we do but we have to balance that with what we’re also hearing, what we find out because of the research that we do from those who are in the trenches, those professionals. For me, Summit has proven it is a viable part of what can happen in education. Not to help kids get better grades but to help kids be more competent.”
Robison made a motion that the board establish a standing committee with the task of meeting and reporting back at the workshop in the month of May with suggestions they might bring to them with relation to filling the gap between students who are struggling with this and what it takes within the gap to get that young man or young lady to get back to where they’re succeeding.
After listening to each board member, Mumford made a substitute motion that the board directs the administration to develop and implement a school based framework to respond to Summit concerns by the end of the school year. “That includes components of identifying struggling students and conducting school focus groups where board members and the community can engage in common concerns and offering reasonable accommodations, including an onsite alternative.”
The board approved the substitute motion by a 4-3 vote.