In a front page story in the Washington Post, Summit Public Schools’ Personalized Learning Platform, Summit Basecamp, comes under scrutiny for how it handles student data privacy, as well as questions about its effect on student outcomes.
Personalized learning is a very promising approach to teaching and learning that can be simply summarized as targeting teaching to the different levels and paces at which students learn. To do this, data about individual student’s academic needs and interests must be effectively and efficiently used.
Today’s classrooms are abounding in data — much of which isn’t put to good use academically or well protected for privacy. Personalized learning is a more effective, organized and transparent way to use existing student data that allows for greater protection of student privacy.
Summit is a signatory of the national Student Privacy Pledge, which is endorsed by the White House and the National PTA. In addition, all data Summit may have is covered by the federal law known as FERPA, which may not be perfect, but does carry serious safeguards for student data and real consequences for misuse of student information. It is also bound by state privacy laws.
As a parent of two public school students, I am comfortable with this language and would welcome the opportunity for my children to use Basecamp because it also is showing signs of positively impacting achievement.
Eighth-grade students at Truesdell Education Campus, the DC Public School discussed in the article, more than doubled, from 13 percent to 28 percent, the rate at which they scored at grade-level proficiency in English Language Arts on the PARCC exam from 2015-16, their first year using the school’s Summit Basecamp approach. Moreover, Summit Basecamp results are promising, as are the outcomes at Summit’s schools in Washington and California.
There is also a growing body of evidence (see here for more) supporting the move to personalized learning.
In the end, there is a lot of fear about change in how students learn and are taught. What should be feared is NOT changing. Our current teach-to-the-middle, wait-to-fail model is not working for far too many students. We need to innovate, and Summit Basecamp is a welcome — and needed — step in the right direction.