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Draper Journal

Summit Academy focuses on individualized instruction for academic success

Oct 04, 2021 11:44AM ● By Julie Slama

Summit Academy eighth-graders work on their projects during Genius Hour. (Photo courtesy of Summit Academy)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Summit Academy is offering its students several pathways in an effort to provide individual instruction.

“We want to meet the needs of all our students at our school and take them from where they are to grow,” Principal Lindy Hatch said.

One way is through the +1 program, which allows above grade-level placement in math or English/language arts for students who have already mastered their grade level and may be learning ahead.

Placement in the program depends upon criteria that includes the year-end RISE testing score of 4; 80% or higher on end of year curriculum based on grade-level assessments such as Acadience literacy skills and GoMath; 80% or higher on those same grade-level assessments in August; teacher and parent input.

“For example, we may have a first-grader who studies math on a second-grade level,” Hatch said.

The individualized instruction also is for students who haven’t yet met benchmark standards and can work with an interventionist who can work with a pull-out group to reteach concepts.

“They can concentrate on holes from the previous year individually or in small groups while the teacher remains with the class,” she said. 

Students usually spend 30 minutes daily working on math or language arts during flex time where they can look at the standards to review, reteach and practice, or extend their knowledge by going deeper.

“By offering both the +1 placement and this intervention, all our students are being challenged,” Hatch said.

Another opportunity is given to students who are close to the +1 class placement by having teachers group students of like ability to create a grade-level honors or advanced class. This group can move through the group-level curriculum at a deeper level with more momentum, she said.

There currently is a sixth-grade math class that is moving on to study seventh-grade curriculum, Hatch said.

Even though the Draper campus only has classes through eighth grade, those top eighth-graders can be taught ninth-grade lessons such as Secondary Math I or group together in an honors class in English/language arts. 

Another opportunity for students is the gifted and talented program, which is being piloted this year and is based on students’ assessments above grade level in every subject level.  

The program has a specialist who pulls out students during the subject time and may, for example, use the Math Olympiad program to “go deeper, look at the whys, learn the rules and identify patterns,” Hatch said, adding that they are looking to compete in the program in the spring.

“Our advanced students have needs like our students who need to review, so we’ve built in supports using our Land Trust funds to provide them this opportunity,” she said.

Another extended learning opportunity comes with the Leonardo Project, which offers first- through fifth-grade students who have mastered their core subjects, an opportunity to study what they want, with teacher approval, Hatch said.

“They may investigate more on something they’re curious about, ask questions, observe and present what they’ve learned,” she said about the non-graded project that could end up as a written report, poster, PowerPoint or other form of presentation.

Similarly, the student-led Genius Hour is a cumulation for eighth-grade students.  

“It’s student-led, and the student chooses a topic to research and incorporate their findings. It is graded and teachers work collaboratively across all subject areas,” Hatch said, adding that sixth- and seventh-grade students have an opportunity to see the presentations. “It’s a way to incorporate all their learning in a cross-curriculum that empowers them to learn more and be pushed to excel at their own level and pace.”