McPherson students protest against Summit Learning Platform Tuesday afternoon

Local

Some students in McPherson want change after the school district adopted a new technology learning platform.

“No Summit, no Summit, no Summit,” students chanted with signs.

Instead of going to class, about 30 McPherson Middle School students decided to spend their afternoon in protest.

“We’re here to protest against Summit Learning Platform because we don’t think it’s that good,” 7th grader Drake Madden said.

From 12:30 p.m. to the end of the school, students stood outside the school building making signs with the message “No Summit.”

“It’s just because we want change,” 7th grader Leland Hept said. “We asked for change four months ago and that didn’t happen.”

At the beginning of August, McPherson schools adopted the Summit Learning Platform where students are self-taught through online lessons at their own pace.

And so far, opinions have been mixed.

“It just makes you feel helpless, and the teachers just leave you behind,” Hept said. “They don’t support you.”

Hept said Summit Learning is too fast and doesn’t involve as much teacher interaction as he would like.

“The teachers are getting paid to just tell us to get on our Chromebooks and do our own work for ourselves,” he said. “I’m getting behind in science because the teachers just push on and don’t help the kids that are behind.”

Another 7th grader Joel Eilert said it’s better to learn by the teachers than Summit.

Madden also added how he’s struggling and his grades. He went from all A’s and B’s to C’s and D’s.

School officials told KSN students have the right to protest peacefully.

“We respect the students,” USD 418 Superintendent Gordon Mohn said. “Not only a right, but really a privilege to speak out.”

He said school officials honor the students’ voices and want to listen.

Students who protested did not receive any consequence as long as they stayed on school property or were picked up by a parent or guardian.

“We want to make this walk out a safe place for them.” Mohn said.

KSN also spoke to some parents who had mixed opinions.

“I don’t hate the platform,” Robin Werth said. “However, I don’t like giving up the individual attention that the classroom gives them. I don’t feel kids should be responsible for their education at this pace.”

Werth said she has a child in eighth grade who has learning disabilities and that the platform isn’t suited for him as well as it is for others.

“My son is allowed extra time on tests,” she said. “Right now, that’s been rather difficult because the content assessments are timed.”

Other parents who didn’t want to go on camera said their students have come home complaining about the platform, while others said it’s been a nice asset to the district. 

“We’ve gotten mixed feedback,” Mohn said. “Some really enjoy it, while others don’t.”

Moving forward, students will be discussing ways to improve their learning experience through student advisory groups and one-on-one meetings with school officials.

Mohn said through these student discussions, the school will decide what to do with the platform by mid April.

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