Daly City, California
Preparing students to be college-ready and contributing members of society.
Since its founding in 2013, Summit Public Schools: Shasta has been at the forefront of creating a new, highly self-directed program that helps every student discover a sense of purpose and an aligned pathway to lifelong success.
Shasta redefines the concept of post-secondary readiness by preparing its diverse community of young people with the skills, knowledge, and habits to attain economic empowerment and success. The school offers an integrated, purpose-based curriculum culminating in an oral defense given to a personal advisory board of student-selected mentors. These projects help students explore and develop skills and plans for life after high school.
Summit Shasta educators support students in their personal and academic growth through the school’s Habits of Success Framework, which focuses on challenge-seeking, persistence, strategy-shifting, and appropriate help-seeking. Teachers receive high-quality professional development to help them accelerate their craft. As part of the Summit Public Schools charter network, Shasta benefits from the Marshall Teacher Residency program—which is designed to build a long-term, sustainable, and diverse pipeline of teachers prepared to lead high-quality, personalized learning classrooms at learner-centered schools. The school’s approach to education is grounded in what science tells us about how students learn best.
“I love self-directed learning because it allows me to catch up on coursework, especially if I fall behind in my classes. With self-directed learning, I can identify daily goals and outline steps I need to take to achieve them. Teachers at Summit are with you every step of the way, ready to help you in any way they can.”
Class of 2023
“We want to make sure that everyone is prepared for success after high school, and that looks different for a lot of different people. We want to make sure that we are meeting everyone’s individual needs in terms of their pathway.”
Manager of Project-based Instruction
Design Principles in Action
Read on to see how Summit Shasta applies XQ Design Principles to sustain student success.
Strong mission and culture
At Summit Shasta, educators are committed to developing students’ ability to be self-directed and self-motivated lifelong learners. Summit Shasta—like all Summit Public Schools—works to equip each student with the knowledge, skills, and mindsets they need to pursue whichever postsecondary pathway aligns to their passion, values, and interests. The school relies on the Concrete Next Step program—which started as a pilot with support from XQ and is now in use not only at Summit Shasta, but throughout the entire Summit Public Schools charter network. Students are encouraged to think about and plan for their future starting in 9th grade, mapping their courses, extracurriculars, and work experiences.
Meaningful, engaged learning
The school uses a purpose-based curriculum that positions students to engage deeply with projects that support their individual interests. By nurturing their curiosity, students develop a personalized learning plan that includes daily goal-setting and regular check-ins. More than a quarter of Shasta graduates from the class of 2022 participated in an internship during high school, which offers students authentic opportunities to learn from experts in the field. Many students share their stories at a Celebration of Learning.
Caring, trusting relationships
Summit Shasta pairs each student with a mentor who supports them throughout high school, including helping with college and scholarship applications. The strong relationships between mentors and students help create a caring, supportive culture at Summit Shasta, with mentors working to improve students’ time management skills and overall well-being. Mentors stay with their students throughout all four years of high school. This continuity creates a primary stakeholder and point of contact for students’ families within the school. Mentors have been instrumental in helping students win awards such as the Posse Foundation Award, which provides four-year college scholarships that pay for full tuition. One class of 2022 winner, Jessica, said she loved daily mentor time because it connected her with a caring adult and helped her build relationships with peers. “Mentor time really helped me build a family,” she said. “My mentor, he’s helped me so much with my time management,” she said. “If he sees me struggling, he’ll sit down and come up with a plan with me.”
Youth voice and choice
At Summit Shasta, educators empower students to become self-directed learners. The school’s structure places each student’s interests at the forefront of their learning path. Regular check-ins and advisory sessions with teachers allow students to gain valuable feedback and articulate their evolving learning plans alongside their mentors. Summit’s immersive, two-week electives called “Expeditions” let students explore various topics, from film production to engineering, four times per year.
Smart use of time, space, and tech
Summit Shasta is not only a learning hub for students but also a space for teachers to grow and develop their skills. The school provides ongoing professional development for teachers, ensuring they have the tools and knowledge to support student learning effectively. By prioritizing teacher training, the school also makes good use of space and time during instruction. To make learning more personalized, Summit Shasta educators and students use an online platform developed by the charter network called the Summit Learning Platform.
More than one in four 2022 Summit Shasta graduates (28 percent) participated in an internship during high school, an impressive rate given the disruptions posed by COVID. Class of 2022 graduate Tiffany interned at San Mateo Outdoor Education, where she developed a keen interest in helping young people learn responsibility. Executive Director Wren Maletsky said she expects more students will participate in internships as the pandemic recedes and Shasta builds more community partnerships.
Summit Shasta’s class of 2022 had a graduation rate of 94 percent, compared to 91.1 percent for the Jefferson Union High District and 88.3 percent statewide. The class of 2022 also had very high rate of completing all “A-G” courses necessary to be eligible for admission to the state’s four-year public universities, almost double the rates in the surrounding district and statewide (94 versus 50 and 45 percent).
A higher proportion of Summit Shasta 2022 graduates met the SAT’s college-ready benchmark
for reading and writing compared with California and the U.S. (75 versus 72 and 65 percent). That’s on top of an SAT participation rate four times the state average and twice the national average (96 versus 21 and 48 percent).
The Class of 2022 had a 100 percent participation rate in at least one AP course and exam compared with 35 percent nationally. And its graduates passed one or more AP exams at double the rate compared with the 2022 graduates nationally (47 versus 21.6 percent).