Concerned about using controversial Summit program

Published 12:45 pm Thursday, June 13, 2019

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The Lincoln County Middle School Site-Based Decision-Making Council has recently voted to mandate the Summit Learning Platform for all students starting in the 2019-2020 school year. Summit Learning is an online learning platform funded and supported by Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame through the Zuckerberg Foundation. I would encourage parents to research Summit Learning Platform and let the school board members know how they feel about this mandate.

My concerns are based on results and privacy. Summit Learning was used in two middle schools in Boone County and their K-PREP math scores dropped 3% while the state average remained flat over a two-year period. They recently voted to end their partnership with Summit Learning. Other school districts that have used Summit Learning in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Kansas have either suspended the program or the issue is currently before their respective school boards. The Kansas fight went national on the Today Show and in the NY Times. Students in New York organized a walk-out to protest the Summit Learning Platform. Is this the best direction for the LCMS?

As for privacy, I find the amount of data collected on our students and parents alarming. I have been informed by the school and the district that no personal identifiable information will be shared. This is in direct conflict to the Summit Learning Data Privacy Addendum, which states, “In order to provide the Services, Partner School and its Users shall provide the categories of Student Data described in the Schedule of Data.” Summit Learning may also share this data with all service providers. There is no choice to “opt-out” of providing the data or Summit’s ability to share the data. This data includes identifiable information such as; names and email addresses of students and parents, parents phone numbers, student demographics: date of birth, gender, ethnicity, & socioeconomic status, specialized education services (IEP or 405), and academic or extracurricular activities.

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As a parent, I only want what’s best for the students of Lincoln County. With all of the controversy and privacy issues, I question whether Summit Learning is the answer. How can LCMS make the program successful when many other districts have already tried and failed?

I would encourage all parents to do their own research and get involved in their child’s education.

Anthony Potts