The Khan Academy: Changing the Face of Education? (page 2)

The Khan Academy: Changing the Face of Education?

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Updated on Nov 22, 2011

“We observed two kinds of data in the pilot classrooms,” Subbarayan told us. “Qualitative and quantitative. Qualitatively, we saw increased student engagement. Students who typically didn’t think they were capable in math realized that they could do it after all. We saw students’ confidence and motivation improve.” In one classroom, he saw students write their name on the board next to topics in which they either needed help or could offer help. He also liked the way teachers could immediately tell when students were struggling, and could step in to help before students got frustrated.

Quantitatively, standardized test scores soared. For one remedial seventh grade class, he saw a 78% improvement in math test scores. Los Altos was so impressed by the results, they decided to implement the program for all fifth and sixth grade classrooms in 2011 as well as more seventh and eighth grades.

Khan Academy is now piloting its curriculum in fifteen other Bay Area districts, and teacher-training is one of its most important focuses. Khan Academy coaches meet with teachers and help them work through challenges. The data they are collecting helps build a body of “Best Teaching Practices” that can be passed along to more teachers in the future who wish to implement the program.

Subbarayan is quick to credit good teaching for the Khan Academy’s classroom success. “Teachers manage the class, step in when ideas are confusing, and help students explore challenging questions. They also help students with goal-setting, which is a very important life skill.”

Khan Academy is pleased by what they’ve accomplished, but hope to keep pushing the limits of what they can provide. They are building a library of project-based, hands-on lessons as well as developing a model for high school, where classes are more topic-specific. He also hopes to build his own school, where “students spend 20 percent of their day watching videos and doing self-paced exercises and the rest of the day building robots or painting pictures or composing music.” Sounds like a dream school to us.

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