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Common Core is a set of educational standards in English language arts (ELA) and math, currently used by 36 states and the District of Columbia, that outline what students should know from Kindergarten to 12th grade. Adopted in 2010, Common Core aims to standardize key educational milestones to give students the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in both school and life. Teachers, school staff, parents, and other experts came together to create the Common Core State Standards. The input from multiple sources ensures educators have a clear and consistent framework on which to base their curriculum.

The standards are:
  • Research and evidence-based
  • Clear, understandable, and consistent
  • Aligned with college and career expectations
  • Based on rigorous content and application of knowledge through higher-order thinking skills
  • Built upon the strengths and lessons of current state standards
  • Informed by other top-performing countries to prepare all students for success in our global economy and society

Because each state adopts the same standards, they create an equal playing field for all students. While Common Core specifies what each student should learn, it doesn’t dictate how educators have to teach. At Achieve, this means that our teachers adapt to the needs of each student through Summit Learning.

Summit Learning was developed by Stanford University and is the learning platform and curriculum we use in our 4th-8th grade classrooms. Based on decades of research, the Summit Learning program provides teachers and students with the resources they need to succeed, which include:

  • Educational resources
  • Technology tools
  • Professional development for teachers
  • Coaching and support for all schools

This mastery-based program focuses on the idea that every student learns differently. In this methodology, teachers encourage students to learn at their own pace with the style of learning that works best for them.

There are two key components to the Summit Learning curriculum:

  • Mastery-based Learning
  • Mentorship

Mastery-based Learning
In mastery-based learning, students must show a deeper understanding of one topic before moving on to the next. In public schools, students can still pass with a ‘D’ grade, which just shows a basic level of understanding. But in mastery-based learning, students must show confidence in their understanding of each subject. They’ll have a year to master concepts and cognitive skills.

Teachers will work with students to determine which learning style works best for them. This might mean working with students one-on-one or in groups. It can also mean a variety of instruction methods, such as videos, note-taking help, or visuals. The goal is to support each student in the exact way to help them thrive.

Through the mentorship part of Summit Learning, we treat every student as a teammate. There are weekly mentoring sessions to discuss short and long term goals, celebrate wins, work through setbacks, and more.

We involve parents through the online platform, where they can view grades, see student projects, and read teacher feedback. We also meet with both parents and students to ensure we’re all on the same page. During these meetings, we also discuss how we can help students succeed. We set initial goals in a meeting at the beginning of the school year. Then, we meet again after each trimester to evaluate progress and create new goals if necessary.

We also support students in their personal lives and focus on trauma recovery and mental health. To achieve this, we include social-emotional learning (SEL) within our curriculum to help students understand, identify, and work through their emotions while improving their interpersonal skills.
Learn more:
What is Summit Learning

Achieve creates a personalized learning plan (PLP) for each student. We design these plans with student, parent, and teacher input. Each year, we have three PLP Conferences we ask parents to attend: before the school year begins and after the first and second trimesters.

During each PLP, we:

  • Set and review goals
  • Discuss student strengths and weaknesses
  • Share test results

The goal of every PLP is to figure out how to help students succeed. They’re a great way to check in with each student and determine what that means for them. PLP conferences also facilitate parent, student, and teacher communication—a crucial aspect of the curriculum at Achieve.