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Big Claims, Little Evidence, Lots of Money: The Reality Behind the Summit Learning Program and the Push to Adopt Digital Personalized Learning Platforms

Virtual learning and personalized learning have been at the forefront of education reform discussions for over a decade. Backed by almost $200 million philanthropic dollars from the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, the Gates Foundation, and others, Summit Public Schools has aggressively marketed its Summit Learning Platform to schools across the United States since 2015. As a result, the Summit Learning Program is now one of the most prominent digital personalized learning programs in the United States. Its rapid spread—despite a lack of transparency and the absence of convincing evidence that it can deliver on its promises—provides a powerful example of how policymakers are challenged when faced with a well-financed and self-interested push for schools to adopt digital personalized learning programs. There is now an urgent need for policymakers to move quickly to protect the public interest by establishing oversight and accountability mechanisms related to digital platforms and personalized learning programs.

T.L.P. Education responded to this research brief in a blogpost that can be found here. Boninger, Molnar, and Saldaña's reply to that response is below.