Summit K2

Charter School
operated by Summit Public Schools
Language(s): 
English
Grades: 
7-12
Capacity: 
600 students
Website: http://www.summitps.org/schools/school-locations/summit-k2
Phone: (510) 374-4093
Address: 
1800 Elm Street El Cerrito, CA
Editors' Notes: 

Parent Q&A

  • Any Summit K2 parents of high schoolers?

    (1 reply)

    We are relocating to the Bay Area from Hong Kong and are interested in exploring charter schools. Are there any Summit K2 families with high school aged kids willing to share your experience with the school? 

    Thanks in advance. 

    Laura

    Hi Laura, my son went to K2 in 7th and 8th grades and for the first couple months of 9th grade until we switched him to our local high school. In our 2.2 years there I had the feeling they have their heart in the right place but had some difficulty pulling off their goals. The school is mostly computer based so the kids are on screens all day. Some kids are focused on what they are supposed to be learning while others are browsing what the internet has to offer. There was a lot of noise in the classrooms and teachers did not seem to have authority or control over the students -not my personal observation, just relaying what my son said about his experience.

    There was an attempt to start a PTA of sorts and that fell through. Maybe they have one now. The teaching staff turnover was high. Most of the teachers were young and inexperienced and seemed to only stay for one year. Kids are assigned a mentor who is there to keep them on track. The education consists of a combination of watching videos on their computers and some classroom teaching and projects. There are units of educational material in each subject based on a timeline. Kids need to stay on or ahead of the line to be on track. Once they fall off track they're on their mentor's radar. Once they watch all the Khan Academy and other videos based on the unit's subject, they take a multiple choice test. They can take it over and over until they pass, then move on to the next unit.  Some whiz kids finish their computer based education way ahead of schedule and end up bored for the rest of the school year. Others are constantly on or behind the line. There are no advanced classes and your child will be in classes with others who have a very wide variety of abilities.

    If you have a child with self control and isn't easily distracted by loud noise in the classroom he or she may do well. I would not recommend Summit if you are zoned for Korematsu/El Cerrito but it's a great choice if your local school is a poor performing one. I would also not recommend it if you plan on switching to any other school at some point. My son was not prepared for the level of work he had to do at his new school. He was so used to sitting back on a computer and mailing in his lackluster effort. When faced with books, paper, and nightly deadlines, it was a wake up call. His assessment of K2 vs new school is that he loves having teachers with experience who can control the classroom better, he prefers not being on the computer all the time, and he likes being held accountable with nightly homework.

    Ultimately it seems like K2 is great for kids whose resident schools are poor performing; are mature and independent workers who can hold themselves accountable for staying on the timeline; and don't mind being on a screen for many hours a day. I came away feeling that my son took a spot from a kid who needed/wanted to be there more than he did. Good luck on your relocation!

Parent Reviews

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Hi, my kid went to Summit K2 for two years, at which point we switched to another school. I can't comment on the culture of Tamalpais; another poster is correct that the two schools may be very different in that regard.

I can comment on pros/cons of aspects of both schools that are likely quite similar, so here goes: Pros: They do a great job of making the curriculum interesting for young people and applicable to today's world. Another pro: the homework load is generally quite light, unless you are falling behind. It's great to not have that weight on the family every evening. Each student has an online dashboard where they can see exactly where they stand in terms of their grades and when assignments are due. It's fantastic for anyone who has challenges with Executive Function.

The main con is the lack of clubs and enrichment, especially in the arts. At K2 there was no band, no choral music, no dance program, no theater program. They offer one sport per season. You should definitely ask about this at Tamalpais because they may indeed offer more than K2. Just be advised that these folks are good at sales so they will probably tell you about their clubs. Clubs (for instance, a drama club) are a great start but they're in no way equivalent to a full-scale dramatic production with costumes, sets, a/v etc. 

Even if your kid isn't so into the arts, or sports for that matter, enrichment activities like this help set the tone at a school. If the artsy kids and the sporty kids are excited & proud to come to school each day, that can spread to everyone. The lack of arts enrichment, in my opinion, contributes to the negative student culture at K2.

Our daughter is a 9th grader, in her third year at Summit K2, and our family could truly not be more thrilled with the school!  She had been struggling at a wonderful local private school which was just not a fit for her, so we felt incredibly lucky to find a free, local school where she could totally be recognized and thrive.  The teachers there truly care about the students, and strive to recognize and work with their individual strengths and challenges.  The administration and Head of School are wonderful and completely dedicated to the students and the school community.  Summit is such an incredible model that the charter school group was recently awarded a huge amount of money by the Bill Gates Foundation, in order to build another Summit School in Oakland.  I could not be more grateful to have our daughter enrolled at K2!

Batya Gelfand

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Oct 2014

As the search for middle school starts up this Fall, I would appreciate any information and feedback about Summit School, which has taken the old Windrush campus and is in its first year starting with 7th grade, as I understand. Does anyone have an insider perspective on it yet? Jennifer


My daughter is happy to be part of the first 7th grade class at Summit K2 in El Cerrito. She likes the teachers a lot and Summit's ''personalized'' and ''blended learning'' model seems to be working well for her. (And of course she loves the beautiful school buildings and grounds). As with any new venture, there are kinks to work out, but overall I think it is a good experience for my daughter to be part of something new and different.

Traditional classroom teaching is not practiced here. Much of the core curriculum is mastered on-line; students work independently at their own pace through ''playlists'' that afford some choice and the opportunity to move rapidly through (and even beyond) the current year's curriculum, or to linger a little longer over material they struggle with. They work together on interdisciplinary projects, and have four 2-week ''expeditions'' throughout the year where they break from academic work to explore such activities as eco art, yoga/balanced living, engineering, hip hop, restorative justice, entrepreneurship, film/video. (In high school the expeditions move out into the world, and include internships and other hands-on activities.) For PE they do Brazilian jiujitsu and yoga. Sports teams are just being launched (volleyball and basketball).

I love the fact that my daughter can complete most of her work at school by 3 pm, so she has time for her many other interests. She does not bring home piles of homework. (Students can stay until 5 pm if they need extra help or want to do their computer work there.) There is no ''tracking'' -- everyone is expected to undertake the same high level of college prep studies. There is a great deal of passion for Summit's mission, which is to ensure that all kids are ready to go to a 4-year college, and succeed once there. Many students will be the first in their family to go to college.

The director and staff are working incredibly hard to get this new school established. Much effort goes into building community and bringing parents into the process early and often. The whole school went camping together in September, which was quite an undertaking. There is lots of communication and for a school not two months old, things run remarkably smoothly. We (both parents and kids) are frequently asked to fill out surveys and give feedback. Admission is by lottery, and there was a waiting list at the beginning of this year so anyone with an interested 6th grader should submit an application soon. There is an open house at the end of October. Details on their website. Lori



Oct 2014

Re: Seeking Mixed-Grade School for advanced kindergartener

I teach at another charter school in the area, and many of my 6th graders from last year are 7th graders in the first class at Summit. I've talked to 6 or 7 of them since the school year began and they all seem really, really happy there and excited by the school and curriculum. I don't know a lot of the specifics about Summit-- I know they use (in part at least) a blended learning model that involves some computerized instruction and students have these ''playlists'' of lessons they progress through. I know that each student had to make a presentation outlining their academic goals for the year and how they will achieve them (which is a great idea). I know they all went on a camping trip together near the beginning of the year, which sounded really cool. Anyway, my information is all second-hand, but I haven't heard any of them or their parents say a bad thing about the school yet. My own children are a few ways off from middle school, but I'll definitely be investigating Summit more when the time comes.