Designing Aligned School Models

A Framework for School Improvement

In 2017, we published The Science of Summit, a blueprint for Summit Public Schools’ approach to teaching and learning. The paper drew upon lessons learned from 15 years of refining our school model at Summit in both California and Washington State. The Science of Summit also described the research base behind Summit’s personalized approach to teaching and learning and demonstrated how the science of learning and human development informs every choice we make.

In The Science of Summit, we introduced a multi-step framework for the development of an aligned school model, which represented our best recommendations for how a school community might engage in strategic improvements. After the paper’s publication, we called upon teachers, school leaders, researchers, and policymakers to help us strengthen this framework, and we partnered with like-minded organizations like Transcend, NewSchools Venture Fund, and others who support communities engaging in new school designs to further develop our thinking. Since 2017, Summit has added an additional 200+ schools to our community, and we have learned with them as they develop their new school models as well.

Now, in Designing Aligned School Models, we share a revised version of the Aligned School Model Framework based on the feedback we have received from diverse communities across the country. Each time we work with a school community — whether rural, urban, or suburban — we use this framework to help structure our design work. This tool serves as the organizing backbone for professional development and school improvement efforts, and educators, parents, and other community members have recommended we share it more broadly.

This paper is meant to serve as a companion piece to The Science of Summit. In the pages that follow, we share our revised framework: specifically, we articulate the challenge we are trying to address; introduce the revised, eight-step framework, describing each step of the framework in more detail; and share examples of aligned school models.

The Designing Aligned School Models Paper (PDF)