Summit Basics

We aren't going to get into much about the platform just yet. However, we are planning to keep adding to the site as needed. For now, we are just going to show you the summit basics, how to get started, and what you need to know getting into the summit learning platform.

What is Summit Learning?

"Summit Learning is a research–based approach to education designed to drive student engagement, meaningful learning, and strong student–teacher relationships that prepare students for life after graduation.

Created by teachers with experience in diverse classrooms, Summit Learning is grounded in decades of research about how children learn. With Summit Learning, students gain mastery of core subjects like math, history, English, and science, while also carefully developing the skills and habits of lifelong learners.

The Summit Learning Program offers schools customizable curriculum, a range of educational resources and technology tools, professional development for educators, and ongoing coaching and support for schools." 

For more information about what Summit Learning is please visit:


Within this page we will talk about setting goals, communications, mentoring, grades and grading, terminology, and frequently asked questions. There is a lot to dig into, so we're not going to cover everything, just the essentials that will get you started and give you a good idea of what Summit Learning is and how we use it.

Please Note: Just how every curriculum is different at every school, so is the way that Summit Learning is used differently at every school. You may see things within this page that are unfamiliar or not covered, this is because we will be going over basic material that covers the core values and features of the Summit Learning Platform. We are going to try to make everything within this document relatable to a variety of people. Although, some numbers, values, terminology, percentages, etc. may vary from educator-to-educator the core values remain the same. In this website we will be going over Columbia High School's configuration of the platform, we recommend checking with your educator to get their Summit Learning configurations.


Setting Goals

Setting Goals is important for every student. This will help to keep them on-track with their learning and grade target. You can also set goals if you are behind in school work to help you catch up. In this section we will talk about setting goals and what that looks like from a student's point of view.

Below is what a student's Week-View screen will look like with goals. Here you can see that our example student, Ali S. has set some goals on their Week-View page that they plans to get done. As you can see some of the goals are marked off, which is signified by being green.

Setting Goals
Goals that are past the student-set due date
Completed Goals
Un-completed goals

To set a goal, simply hover the corresponding class and day you would like to set a goal for. While hovering over the day/class select the "Add Goal" button and follow the prompts to create a goal. Goals can also be created from Power Focus Area, Additional Focus Area, Math Unit, Challenge Focus Area, and Project overview pages. For a more in-depth guide on how to set goals please visit our How to FAQ Video.


Mentoring is an important part of development in education. Mentors are responsible for making sure that each mentee in on-track and set for the path the students wants to take. Mentoring offers one-on-one time with a teacher and a student to help further develop the student's skills, and to help them set goals for their education.

On the Summit Learning "Week-View" page you can get ready for your one-on-one time with your mentor, to help you mentor be ready to help you. As seen in the image below, our example student. Ali S. has a box at the top of their page saying "Begin Pre-Work." Once the student selects this button they will be taken through a short questionnaire that will help their mentor better understand and help the student when it is time for one-on-one mentoring.

"Begin Pre-Work" Button

At Columbia High School, a mentor is assigned to you at the beginning of your freshman year and they will progress with you throughout your academic progress at Columbia High School. They will help you to stay on-track and keep your best interest in mind.


Communication is key when it comes to school. Whether it be between students and teachers, or relaying useful information that people don't have time to input. The Activity section in the Progress tab will display records and noted from the student's activity on the Summit Platform. For example in the image shown below you can see that our example student, Ali S. has three things in their recent activity on their Progress Tab.

Successfully completed a Power Focus Area
Attempted but not passed Power Focus Area
Passed Power Focus Area

The Activity section will show teacher notes, attempted/passed/failed Power Focus Areas, Additional Focus Areas, Challenge Focus Areas, Math Units, and other communications that will enable a student, teacher, or parent to better access and help the student. Additionally you can click on any of the activity logs to take you to the location of the notification, or to see more information about the log selected. 

Parents can also see this screen from both the student and parent login of summit. This enables parents, teachers, and students to be able to keep up-to-date on their notifications and activity.

Grades and Grading


The Summit Learning Platform has a unique grading system, that helps students to grow based on their cognitive skills and content knowledge rather than just a one-size-fits-all solution. Every student is different so, so their education and curriculum should be to. Just as you can customize Facebook pages and cars, we also believe that education should be customizable. Each student will be able to learn at their own pace and with their own needs, and be graded on a rubric that works for them. With the Summit Learning Platform we are enabled to do these things and more. Let's get into how it works!

Grades Should Show Mastery

Students learn and grow the most when they work through their challenges. Too often in a typical classroom, high-performing students are bored, while other students struggle to keep up. This approach to teaching is designed to be challenging for all students and allow them to grow confidence in their skills and abilities.


In the past, students were able to obtain high grades by just participating in class or doing their homework. Likewise, on the opposite end of the spectrum, students were able to obtain a passing grade of “D” by manipulating just enough points or assignments, yet failing or not doing a great portion of essential learning. Although they received passing grades, it does not mean they had truly mastered the content, and it certainly was not a reflection of their development of lifelong skills.


This learning design is all about raising the bar and doing better for our students—preparing them for college, the work-place, and the world

Teacher Connections With Each Student

As experts in a given subject, teachers put their expertise to use by teaching not only content knowledge, but by teaching students how to apply that knowledge to the world around them through real-world projects that are centered around the development of lifelong skills, like critical thinking, analysis, problem-solving, and writing. Students are receiving much more feedback on their learning and are expected to set and reach their own academic goals. Therefore, a school-wide mentoring system is key to assuring the student's understanding, progress, and success in mastery. Each student has an assigned mentor/teacher, who helps them with the learning habits of success, maintains high expectations, and facilitates personalized support.

Content Knowledge is Key

In addition to group lessons taught by the teacher, students are given the chance to learn through a range of resources – from textbooks and articles to educational videos and podcasts. Because they’re allowed to continue studying if they don’t pass a content quiz or test on their first try, students learn and retain more information over time. True to college, the work place, and life—if first we do not succeed, we try, try, and if need be try again. A student's efforts to truly understanding essential content is key in our students' development of their knowledge and skills.

Grades for all general courses in Personalized-Mastery Learning are weighted as follows:

PML grade Weight

All general courses (non math) in PML*:

70%: Cognitive Skills through Projects

30%: Mastery of content in Focus Areas through Content Assessments (21% Power and 9% Additional)


AP and/or Dual courses (non math) in PML*:

60%: Cognitive Skills through Projects

40%: Mastery of content in Focus Areas through Content Assessments (28% Power and 12% Additional)


Performance intense courses (non math) in PML*:

90%: Cognitive Skills through Projects

10%: Mastery of content in Focus Areas through Content Assessments (7% Power and 3% Additional)


All MATH Courses in PML*:

70%: Math Units

30%: Mastery of content in Focus Areas through Content Assessments and Portfolio Problems

  • 20%: Power Focus Areas

  • 10%: Portfolio Problems


*Personalized-Mastery Learning (PML) courses are those offered by teachers who have been trained and are in the practice of students learning in PML. With this implementation model of taking is slow and in phases, in the 2019-20 school year two-thirds of our teachers at Columbia High School taught all or some of their courses in PML. These courses will be on the Summit Learning platform.

Can Students Re-take Tests?

Yes, students are permitted to retake tests (content assessments), so students have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes as opposed to being left with gaps in their knowledge.


Before using Personalized-Mastery Learning and the Summit Learning Platform, if a student did not pass an assessment, they would be at risk of having to move onto the next subject without actually learning the content, thus creating bad work habits. Now students are able to personalize their education based on specific feedback and their learning needs.


If a student struggles to pass an assessment after a few attempts, their teacher will intervene and reflect with them, this helps the student to be able to master the content. Learning science shows that a large percentage of learning happens in letting students persist through struggles and challenges, that’s exactly why struggling in a safe environment at school and learning those lifelong habits is going to set our students up for success long after they’ve left school.


We are confident that all students will continue to learn and improve because our teachers and the students' mentors make sure each student gets the needed support to master cognitive skills and content. With personalized support and choice, students can achieve more than they thought possible.

What are "Incompletes/Off-tracks"?

One difference in personalized-mastery grading is the Incomplete. An incomplete means that the student is either behind in their Focus Areas, below grade level on Cognitive Skills, or they may have an overdue project. It is not the same as an F, it just means a student isn’t yet meeting all requirements and has some assessments to complete or needs to raise their score on a skill. All students have the entire year to master a course or skill.


It’s important to remember that early in the year or when a student is behind in a subject, grades may look lower than they actually are, grades will improve throughout the year's progress. Students that are taking yearlong courses, and pass their assessments or improve on the rubric for projects, will continue to see increased grades .


Grades may look different now than they did in the past, and that’s okay. We believe that this grading method gives parents and students a much more accurate view of where a student is particularly strong and where they have areas for improvement. It is important to have consistent monitoring by teachers and students of the student's progress tab and learning data. Also key to a student’s success is a parents' consistent monitoring in the parental account, along with communication and clarification with their student’s teachers.

Grade Reporting
Personalized-Mastery, grades are year-long, allowing students to grow and improve over the course of the year. This allows students to demonstrate growth over a longer period of time without being halted in their learning progress at arbitrary points during the school year. Aligned to the emphasis on growth mindset, no grades are finalized until the end of the academic year. Grades will be reported at the end of the first semester, however, the learning opportunity is year-long so the year end grade will retro and be the same for both second and first semesters.

Grade Calculating

The Summit Learning Platform automatically calculates student grades (in percentage and letter grade) based on teacher assessments of the student's progress in cognitive skill scores, concepts in math units, based on the Cognitive Skills Rubric, and student progress by passing Content Assessments in Focus Areas. These grades are updated in real time and can be accessed by teachers, students, and parents. Below is an example of how (non-math) grading is calculated.

Grading Calculations

Examples of math grading and calculations are show below:

Grading Calculations (math)

Assessing Cognitive Skills in Projects

Students develop cognitive skills by applying their knowledge to the world around them through projects. Teachers give feedback to students as they work through the checkpoints (steps) of a project, and teachers assess each project based on the three to five skills (on average) the student is expected to demonstrate in that project. The Cognitive Skills Rubric specifies grade-level expectations for each skill. Students’ progress through the year along a continuum, demonstrating competency in a cognitive skill as appropriate for their level of development, with the goal of becoming college- and career- ready. Each skill has a score between 0 and 8, and students must score at least a 6 to demonstrate college and career readiness. Each cognitive skill is assessed multiple times during the year in different subjects so that students, teachers, and parents can track growth. The cognitive skills score is translated to a percentage grade in the Summit Learning Platform based on the student’s grade level. The overall cognitive skills grade is based on the weighted average of all the skills assessed in a course, and represents 70% of a student’s grade. Below are the 36 Cognitive skills within their respective domains on which students are graded.

36 Cognitive Skills in their Domains

Grading Rubric for the Cognitive Skill "Synthesizing Multiple Sources"


Assessing Content Knowledge

Teachers and mentors guide students in learning content through Content Playlists with a variety of available resources (primary sources, videos, text, etc.), as well as preparing for Content Assessments to ensure students practice good study habits. The process of taking Content Assessments is designed to promote a growth mindset. There is no limit to the number of times a student can take an assessment, because we believe that a large percentage of learning happens in letting students persist through struggles and challenges — with feedback and support along the way. If a student fails an assessment more than a few times, their teacher or mentor will intervene to help them determine how to move forward. The 10-question Content Assessments* are graded in the Platform automatically, and results are immediately accessible by teachers, students, and parents. Students must score at least an 8 out of 10 on the Content Assessment to pass a Focus Area**. Teachers can use real-time test results to easily identify which students need help on specific Focus Areas and provide additional scaffolding on those topics. For the Content Knowledge portion of a student’s grade, we measure a combination of the Content Assessments from Power Focus Areas*** and Additional Focus Areas**** to deepen a student’s understanding for each subject.


The process for a student to take a Power Focus Area (PFA) test will generally be:

  • The student’s course teacher and/or the student’s assigned mentor may approve a test attempt

  • Student demonstrates a “green” diagnostic & evidence of note processing on the PFA topic

  • Upon multiple attempts, teachers and mentors may require further resources (study guide, notes, etc.)

*Content Assessment question count may vary depending on subject, teacher, or grade level

**Amount/percentages needed to pass may vary depending on subject, teacher, or grade level

*** Power Focus Areas are worth 21% of final grade for course

**** Additional Focus Areas are worth 9% of final grade for course

Focus on Year-Long Progress

In the spirit of growth mindset, no grades are finalized until the end of the academic year (or the semester for semester-long courses). This allows students to improve and demonstrate growth over a longer period of time. Throughout the year, students are encouraged to set weekly goals toward passing courses and reflecting on their progress with their mentor. Students will have an Incomplete grade in a subject until they submit overdue projects, revise their project work, and/or are on pace to complete their Power Focus Areas by the end of the year. Below is a screen shot of the "Year View" page where students can access their Projects, Power Focus Areas, Additional Focus Areas, and Challenge Focus Areas. Within the Summit Platform students, teachers, and parents can easily see if a student is on-track to complete Projects and Power Focus Areas and which ones they have attempted but not yet mastered.

Challenge Focus Areas
Power Focus Areas
Year View
Line indicated if students are on-track to complete coursework by end of the school year

Letter Grade Breakdown

A: Reported throughout the course based on the student’s learning progress on Power Focus Area assessments (30% weight) * and Projects/Units (70% weight) *. All assessments/projects are on track or complete by year end. All evidence is at or above (at least one or few additional Power Focus Areas

completed) grade level expectations.

B: Reported throughout the course based on the student’s learning progress on Power Focus Area assessments (30% weight) * and Projects/Units (70% weight) *. All assessments/projects are on track or

complete by year end.

C: Reported throughout the course based on the student’s learning progress on Power Focus Area assessments (30% weight) * and Projects/Units (70% weight) *. All assessments/projects are on track or

complete by year end.

I: Reported throughout the course but not as a final course grade in the transcript. Indicates “incomplete learning” (mastery has not yet been achieved).

N/A: There is no project graded yet for that course

D: Reported only at semester end and year end. Indicates the student has an “I” incomplete but demonstrated consistent learning progress. Indicates the student must improve their year-end grade to

“C” or higher to take the next course in sequence. Indicates a student-athlete/performer is eligible.

F: Reported only at semester end and year end. Indicates the student has an “I” incomplete but demonstrated inconsistent or no learning progress. Indicates the student must improve their year-end grade to “C” or higher to take the next course in sequence. Indicates a student-athlete/performer is not


*Using the general course weight example. Please click here for the other course weights and click here for calculation examples.

Cognitive skill scores and math concept unit scores

Below are the Cognitive Skill Scores. This is the grading legend when it comes to the rubric, shown below is the grade-level and the corresponding rubric to grade ratios. Here you can see where the student is supposed to be according to their grade level.

How math unit scores translate into percentage grades
Grade Cog Scores (Math).png

Parental Guidance and Monitoring

It is essential to a student’s support and success for parents to have access and regularly monitor their parent account. Parent dashboard feedback, grading, and summary is identical to the student’s without all the course curriculum and resources, which you can access to support your child anytime from their account. Working with them is like opening up a book, notebook, or portfolio of their work. Below are some screen shots of where you can find current grades, and complex breakdowns of grades for a certain class. Just go to the Progress tab to see real-time grade information.

AP -1.png
Normal Course (On-Track)
Off-Track Course due to being behind on project

You can also see an expanded and in-depth view of any corse by clicking on it as seen in the screen shots below.

Courses 1.png
Project progress for course
Power Focus Area  progress for course
Additional Focus Area progress for course
Cumulative progress for course based upon Grade Calculation
Courses 2.png
Grade-level rubric, and all project scores graded using grade-level rubric.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I get a report card?

Yes, you will get a report card at the end of the year when grades are final. One of the best parts about having the Summit Learning Platform available to you at all times, is that any time you want to see your child’s grades you can! A grade will also be reported at the end of semester 1 but it is subject to change retroactively to the year end grade.


Will my student still earn credits?

Yes, your student will earn credit for their classes at the end of the year end and first semester. GPA will be calculated the same as it has always been (including a 5-point weight for AP courses).


Why is there only one grade at the end of the year?

We want to make sure that our grading system reflects the values of our school, and, given that we value the growth that students make each year, we want to make sure that our grades take growth into account. At the end of the year, we will be able to fully account for all of your child’s learning.


What does an incomplete mean?

An incomplete means that your child still has work to do to pass his/her course. Specifically, a student earns an incomplete in a course when:

1.  There is an overdue project

2. The average cognitive skills score is below passing for their respective grade level

3. The number of power focus areas is not “on-track” to finish by the end of the year

An incomplete means that a student needs to fix one or more of the above problems. If your student has an incomplete, he/she needs to meet with his/her mentor and/or teacher to make a plan to resolve the academic performance issue.


Does the school ever give an “F”?

Yes. When a student does not make up their incomplete after an agreed upon time, the incomplete turns into an “F”. An “F” grade means that no credit was earned. A “D” grade can be put on a transcript, however like college a “C” or higher is required to move on to the next course in sequence.


What is the difference between a red, yellow, and green on Checkpoint feedback in a project?

These colors represent formative feedback from the teacher to the student on how they did on the Checkpoint. A red describes either no work or work that needs a good amount of revision. A yellow describes work that is below grade level proficiency. A green describes work that is at or above grade level proficiency. Projects with any red feedback cannot be submitted as final and need revision prior to being final. Projects with yellow feedback may submit with caution and green feedback is highly encouraged to submit the project as soon as complete.

Terminology and Vocabulary

Additional Focus Area (AKA: AFA)

Content that students complete after they have completed a Power Focus Area. These are not focus areas required to pass a course, but Additional Focus Areas make up 9%* of a student's grade and are highly encouraged.


Cognitive Skills

Interdisciplinary, high-order skills, such as developing a persuasive argument or analyzing data to make informed conclusions, that are needed for collage and career success. In Summit Learning, Cognitive Skills represent 70%* of a student's grade.


Cognitive Skills Rubric (AKA: Rubric)

A single research-based Rubric for grading the cognitive skills demonstrated in a project. The Cognitive Skills Rubric was developed by educators in partnership with the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE). The Rubric spans subject areas and grade levels, so students progress along a continuum demonstrating competency in a skill as appropriate for their level of development, with the goal of graduating collage- and career- ready


Content Knowledge

The ideas, vocabulary, and concepts for an academic subject.

Focus Area

A unit of content that includes learning objectives, a diagnostic Assessment, a Content Playlist, and a Content Assessment in the Summit Learning Platform. In Summit Learning, passing Focus Areas accounts for 30%* of a student's grade.

Math Unit

The collection of math tasks that lead to students learning key standards-aligned math concepts.

Power Focus Area

Core content that every student needs to learn to complete a course and be collage ready. Students must pass all Power Focus Areas in order to pass a course. Power Focus Areas make up 21%* of a student's grade.


An investigation into an authentic real-world question or problem. Projects culminate in a performance-based assessment such as an essay, lab report, or presentation. In projects, students work in teams to apply content knowledge and develop the cognitive skills needed for collage and career success.


*Based on the Columbia High School configuration of the Summit Learning Platform. Read disclaimer regarding other school configurations

Is something missing, or would you like to suggest content to be added to the page? If so, then don't forget to fill out a contact form using the "Contact Us" button at the bottom of the page with your suggestion(s). We regularly update this page to match current values, terminology, interfaces, designs, numbers, suggestions, etc.

This website is hosted by CCAC Server Solutions. All rights reserved.