Close the Information Gap: Tell Students About Khan Academy
Close the Information Gap: Tell Students About Khan AcademyAnne Sussman, Director, K-12 Communications
“It’s 10 p.m. and you don’t understand mitosis, and you really need to understand mitosis for a test the next day. We want to be there for you in that moment.” So began Elizabeth Slavitt, director of content for Khan Academy (KA), as she spoke at the Forum’s closing plenary about the real-time benefits of the online learning tool and the organization’s relationship with the College Board.
One of the primary goals of KA, said Slavitt, is to “unblock barriers for students to achieve their goals.” So when David Coleman, president of the College Board, called her office to talk about the redesigned SAT and his desire to partner with KA to level the playing field for all students, it seemed like a perfect match.
That partnership has resulted in Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy, an online tool with full-length practice SAT tests created by the College Board and practice items developed by Khan Academy in close collaboration with the makers of the test.
These are no ordinary practice items. They are interactive questions that “learn” what each student is already good at, and where each student could use some help. The tool then produces customized practice recommendations to meet the specific needs of each student. “We build personalized learning experiences,” said Slavitt. “We let students go at their own pace, offer step-by-step [answer] explanations, and congratulate them when they achieve their goals.”
To help always on-the-move students keep up with their practice, the Daily Practice for the New SAT app is also available for free. In addition to providing the same practice questions, answer explanations, and personalized recommendations as the website, it can score a student’s paper-and-pencil practice test in a matter of seconds.
All of this is great news, but it means nothing if students don’t know about it. “While we’ve gotten rid of the financial gap,” said Slavitt, “I suspect we still have the information gap.” And the students most in need of these tools – the low-income, lower-resourced students – are most likely to exist in circles where this is not being discussed.
“Please help us spread the word,” Slavitt urged. “We want every single student who could use this to know it exists — to know there are a bunch of adults who value their future enough to help them achieve their dreams.”