With all the controversy surrounding education in Oklahoma, like funding, teacher strikes and school threats, it's nice to hear about a unique program at a Tulsa school getting attention from educators in other states.
In education, one size doesn’t always fit all, so Tulsa's Memorial Junior High is one of 16 schools in Oklahoma using the Summit Basecamp personalized learning model, which is really paying off.
"This program gives our students an opportunity to expand, to explore, to explode in their education," teacher Shirley Rose said.
Here's how it works:
Fifth through eighth-grade students at the school use Chromebooks loaded with educational content.
"When they open this up at the beginning of August, they're going to see everything that's there for the whole year for them," teacher Cheryl Turner said.
But, the difference is, they're able to go through that content at their own pace.
"It paces me at a good pace. It lets me work how I want to work," said eighth-grader Xochitlh Vargas.
For example, students who excel in one subject area don't have to wait for other classmates to catch up.
"I like that it allows me to work ahead when I feel most motivated," student Talitha Geen said.
Student Justin McCoy said, "I'm allowed to go faster."
Technology enables teachers to tailor their instruction to specific needs of each individual students, and the teachers mentor students to help them set their own goals.
"Our mentoring program is outstanding," Rose said. “Make sure the goals were met and then we're looking at goals for the following week."
Their progress is assessed all along the way during the school year.
When students need extra help, teachers have more time for them.
"Really hone in on what their particular needs are so I can support them with that," Turner said.
The Summit Program idea is really catching on. In fact, school districts from Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri have visited Tulsa Public Schools to see how the program works. The goal is for students to become self-directed, taking more control of their own success.
By the end of the year, students still have to meet state-mandated skills and requirements. The Summit model is just a different way of getting there.
Summit Basecamp is used by 100 schools across the country. They're selected through a competitive application process.