Key Takeaway

  • Fifth grade implementation of Summit Learning in a district blended learning school serving a highly diverse and high-needs student population.

  • Core strategies include the use of a personalized learning platform (Summit Learning), cross-grade-level teaching teams, full inclusion of special education and intern staff, mentoring relationships, and a focus on building both academic and cognitive skills in a standards-based reporting environment.

  • Interesting or unique highlights to check out: Leader Gara Field's story of change; teacher-supported student goal setting; and Friday Enrichment Academies.

Experience Overview

NOTE: The following school profile is a snapshot of a moment in time, therefore some school structures, models, and strategies may have changed since publication.

Pleasant View Elementary is a Pre-K-5th grade school serving 414 students (2016) in Rhode Island’s Providence Public School District. Pleasant View began implementing a blended approach in 2012 to meet the needs of their diverse learners, who are majority low income and over a third of whom require special education services.

Initial blended learning work was undertaken in partnership with Education Elements and the Highlander Institute. In the 2015-2016 school year, school leadership wanted to take the work even further, moving to a fully personalized approach that not only differentiates by need but gives students greater choice and ownership for learning. With this goal in mind, Pleasant View partnered with Summit Public Schools to implement personalized learning through Summit Basecamp in their 5th grade classrooms.

Summit Basecamp is a free program created by Summit Public Schools, a charter network. Summit, an early pioneer in blended and personalized learning, created the program to support personalized learning efforts at other schools nationally. Through the program, selected partner schools redesign their classrooms using Summit’s Personalized Learning Platform (PLP), moving to a self-paced approach that integrates mastery-based instruction with deeper project based learning to empower students and help them develop the academic and cognitive skills they need to succeed later in life.

The profile below highlights Pleasant View’s Summit Basecamp implementation.

Learning In Action

While all Pleasant View students learn through some form of blended instruction, the 5th grade students learn in a highly personalized way. Each student has a Personalized Learning Plan, a customized learning pathway that students access online. Students are provided with a great deal of choice over their learning pathways, pace, resources, and support.

Pleasant View’s approach emphasizes both academic and personal growth. As part of their personalized instruction, students often receive one-on-one or small group instruction as well as work with peers. Teachers also serve as mentors, helping students set and track goals throughout the year. Students also receive instruction on cognitive skills, which are designed to help prepare them for college and career readiness. These skills as taught and assessed through deeper project-based learning.

Teaching In Action

Pleasant View teachers work as both content experts and mentors, guiding students through their learning pathways by supporting individualized learning as well as developing and executing standards-aligned project-based learning. They work in teams, as special education teachers and City Year tutors are fully integrated into classrooms.

Teaching at Pleasant View requires a wide array of skills. Teachers curate content and facilitate student learning. They serve as mentors and coaches, providing support when needed and helping empower students with greater ownership in their learning. Teachers continually analyze student data, both individually and among their grade level team, to determine student progress and supports.

The Pleasant View 5th grade science teachers are also trail-blazers: they were the only 5th grade class to implement Summit Basecamp in the first year of national implementation. Unlike in higher grades in Summit Basecamp, the learning objectives and resources did not exist for 5th grade and had to be built out the summer before. The objectives, resources, and general approach were modified throughout the year as teachers better understood what worked best for their students.  Much like their students’ learning, Pleasant View teachers’ instructional practice continually evolved throughout the year.


Pleasant View students learn independently, with peers, and in small groups using both online and face-to-face modalities. Teachers work in teams across all content areas as well as with special education teachers and tutors.

Pleasant View's personalized learning program implementation is fully blended at all times. Students work on their devices alone, with peers, and with their teacher throughout class. This is done through an individual rotation blended learning model (Christensen Institute). Each student in Pleasant View’s fifth-grade science class has a Personalized Learning Plan (PLP), which serves as an individual instructional roadmap. The PLP provides instant performance feedback for students and teachers, allowing them to modify the structure of their learning. Small-group instruction and one-on-ones are additional elements prevalent in this instructional model, though they are determined based on student need, rather than a set schedule.

To support this, the school has a one-to-one student to device environment; fifth-grade students use Chromebooks. The primary software used by PVES is the Summit Learning Program, which serves as the core learning management system, integrating assessments, learning resources, learning pathways, and data analysis tools. The learning platform interfaces with other learning tools, like G Suite for Education (formerly Google Apps for Education or GAFE) and digital content in playlists, as well as other platforms via Clever. Pleasant View is also a client of Education Elements, the creator of a cloud-based product called Highlight, which enables single sign-on for students in other grades.

Students and teachers use diagnostic, assessment, and activity data throughout every class period as well as in scheduled mentoring sessions. Students have a choice over what to work on, their pace, goals, and the resources they use. Differentiation is created through grouping strategies, one-on-one support, and the availability of multiple content resources on playlists. Students demonstrate their knowledge via content assessments and projects. A student must show 80 percent mastery of a standard (which is aligned to the Common Core State Standards) and cognitive skills, which are leveled within a rubric.

Targeted and Relevant

Actively Engaging

Socially Connected

Growth Oriented

Conditions for Success

Educators seeking to try out this model with their students should keep the following key needs in mind:

  • Staffing: While an individual teacher could likely implement this model within a standalone classroom, Summit recommends that schools launch the approach across all classes within a grade at once to create a coherent learning experience as well as help maximize flexibility of resources. Further, given the intensity of data analysis, monitoring, and reflection, it is valuable for teachers to be able to work across a team to plan and problem solve.
  • Devices: This model requires that every student have access to a learning device at all times.
  • Content: This model relies heavily on content freely available through the Summit PLP.
  • Broadband/Connectivity: Students must have adequate connectivity at all times. Summit recommends at least 745 kilobytes per student to 1.5 megabytes per student.

Summit Basecamp participants must comply with additional requirements.

Replication and Scale

Pleasant View is entering its fifth year of blended learning implementation across all subjects and grades. The school is entering its second full year of personalized learning at the 5th grade level through Summit Basecamp.

Summit Public Schools has replicated the approach across its campuses in grades 6-12, and has now made the Summit Personalized Learning Platform (PLP) freely available to any teacher nationally. To support deeper school implementations, Summit launched Summit Basecamp, which is a program that provides training, professional development, and other resources to partner schools across the country. Interested school grade-level teams can apply. This program requires significant investment of time, as well as compliance with requirements, but is free to schools that are accepted.

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