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Figuring out how kids learn with #TeachWithKhan educator Tambra Kascic

mar, 2019-09-24 09:06

In a recent interview, our Teacher Community Program Manager, Aviv, spoke to Tambra Kascic, an #alwaysgrowing educator with a special commitment to figuring out how kids learn and sharing her expertise in the #TeachWithKhan Facebook and Twitter communities. 

Aviv at Khan Academy: Can you describe your journey to becoming a teacher? 

Tambra:  Before I started teaching, I aspired to work in engineering technologies, and wound up working for a military-based supplier company. This is where I worked on various military equipment during Desert Storm and I got the opportunity to inspect the Atlantis space shuttle windows! I decided to re-attend college at age 48 to complete a degree in secondary education mathematics because I got tired of hearing teens say, “I hate math.” This is where I learned about Khan Academy from a grad student who was teaching a biology lab I was enrolled in.

Aviv at Khan Academy:  That’s an incredible journey! How did you address the I-hate-math attitude in your early years of teaching? 

Tambra: I first taught in Roane County, a rural farm community with a high need for math teachers and then at South Charleston High School, a school with a diverse population of under-resourced students. I taught classes from conceptual math to AP Calculus and implanted problem/project-based learning in all of my classes, much to the dismay of my fellow teachers. I asked to have the desks in rows and columns removed and found round tables so my students could work together and collaborate. Khan Academy became a tool for my students to use when questioning the process or their answers when they worked to complete problems in the classroom. 

Aviv at Khan Academy: Tell me more about how personalized learning fits into your teaching. 

Tambra: I decided to work towards my master’s degree in special education to better understand the teaching process for students with special needs. I wanted to use those skills for students who fell through the cracks in the general education classrooms. After receiving my masters, I accepted a position at the same high school to create an engineering program as well as teach the college dual credit classes and AP Calculus. The engineering project was to increase our students in STEM-related courses and careers and to encourage female students to continue in STEM courses. Our current level of 18% female students enrolled in engineering-type courses is well below the national average, and it is my hope to continue to increase this percentage each year. We are on the right track, and have increased our enrollment by almost 400%, have a 3D printing lab, and opened our first chapter of Skills USA for our school!

Aviv at Khan Academy: What are your plans for continuing to personalize learning for all students in the future? 

Tambra: While my master’s degree addressed many of the questions I had regarding cognitive learning and how it relates to curriculum, I decided to pursue my doctorate in philosophy with a focus on cognition and curriculum psychology in order to design and implement evidence-based interventions to better serve struggling students. 

It is my goal to get to the heart of I-hate-math statements and encourage my district to use strategies that change the mindset of students, so they will be more motivated to continue pathways that lead to STEM careers. 

I am currently working on a research topic relating to psychology, math and learning struggles of students in general education. Through this process, I have continued to use Khan Academy, going as far as becoming an Ambassador in order to train and encourage other teachers to use this amazing tool. 

Aviv at Khan Academy: Thanks so much for sharing your story with us!

Tambra: Thank you for the opportunity!

After seeing substantial score gains in a pilot study, Khan Academy launches a new offering for school districts

ven, 2019-09-13 12:39

Two years ago, Khan Academy started a pilot program with Long Beach Unified School District in Long Beach, California, to explore how to work with teachers and unlock student potential. Bolstered by the pilot’s success, we’re pleased to announce the introduction of Khan Academy Districts, a landmark new offering for school districts across the country.

In addition to Long Beach Unified, Compton Unified School District and Madera Unified School District in California and Seminole County Public Schools in Florida will use Khan Academy Districts this school year. 


Khan Academy and Long Beach Unified conducted a joint correlational study in the 2017-2018 school year of more than 5,000 students. Research shows:

  • Teaching with Khan Academy for one class period per week for at least 30 minutes was associated with students gaining an additional 22 points on the state mathematics assessment.
  • Long Beach Unified reported students who used Khan Academy gained twice the district average on the state assessment.
  • Findings held true regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, family income, or English language learner status.

Long Beach Unified is the third largest school district in California and serves one of the most diverse cities in the United States.

We hope that Khan Academy Districts will give teachers across the United States the tools to deliver meaningful learning gains for every student in their classrooms. We’re proud to partner with districts to unlock student potential, with a focus on underserved populations.

Khan Academy Districts provides tools, professional development, and data insights to help teachers, district administrators, and principals drive student achievement district wide. District leaders gain insights into student progress via reports on usage and impact. Students have access to materials at a level just right for them. Additionally, teachers receive year-round, wrap-around support. 

Khan Academy Districts is available for school districts everywhere for the 2020-2021 school year. Interested districts can learn more here

Onwards!

Engineering principles help us scale to better meet our mission

jeu, 2019-08-22 18:00

Growth is a goal for every organization and company. At Khan Academy, our nonprofit mission is to reach all learners around the world whose lives can be improved with access to a free education. To give you an idea of our growth towards our mission, today 18 million people learn on Khan Academy every month, up from nine million in 2016. 

How have we been able to deliver more content, more features, and continually improved experiences for our users? Our VP of Engineering, Marta Kosarchyn, shares out a powerful and an often overlooked strategy for scaling growth. Read more in the Khan Engineering blog. Inspired by our mission? Be sure to check out our careers page.


Making the right shifts keeps things running smoothly.  Photo by Alok Sharma on Unsplash

Meet the Best Presentation winner at the first-ever  Khan Academy Ambassador Summer Summit

lun, 2019-08-19 13:42

Amy Forsythe is a high school math teacher as Mason High School in Mason, Ohio. Amy attended our inaugural Khan Academy Ambassador Summer Summit in July and we’re delighted to share this guest blog post!

By Amy Forsythe

My experience at the the pilot Khan Academy Ambassador Summer Summit—#KhanCon—was amazing! 

My expectation was that I would learn some new tricks for using Khan Academy in my classroom and maybe even get some insider info on what changes will be taking place in the future, and that definitely happened. I not only heard things that will help me in my classroom, but I also got great tips on how Khan Academy can help others.   

While those tangible learnings were huge, the real WOW moments for me were the connections I made with other Ambassadors and the Khan Academy staff. It is an incredible experience to be around others who share your passion for something. We realized how much we all have in common despite being from different states, different subject areas, different grade levels, and different types of schools.  

I was also overwhelmed by how much the Khan Academy staff wanted to talk with us and learn about how we use their resources and what challenges we face. I was asked my opinion on things so many times! I was constantly talking with Khan Academy staff during breaks, lunch, and any other times we could find! I didn’t anticipate that. 

A theme that kept coming up was looking at student growth over time rather than assignment scores alone, meaning we collectively valued looking at where a student started off and tracking their improvement. With Khan Academy, different students can have different goals for growth and mastery of specific skills—working methodically from the foundation up to more advanced learning—that they can keep track of themselves so that all students are appropriately challenged. In the past, I’ve focused more on individual assignments. But coming out of the Khan Academy Ambassador Summer Summit, I’d like to do more with growth and mastery.

It was so obvious that the Khan Academy staff wanted to do more than just make a great product. They really want to help teachers have a great impact. Seeing people working so hard to help me do my job more effectively made me so happy!  

I left #KhanCon knowing more about how to use Khan Academy in my classroom and also knowing that there are so many people who really value what teachers do and want to help them reach as many students as possible, as effectively as possible.  

That is simply amazing.

2018 in review: Annual Report

mer, 2019-08-07 11:32

Last year more than 70 million people used Khan Academy. Even more importantly 1.5 million of those users spent enough time on Khan Academy to lead to significant academic results. Wow!

We are so proud of everyone who spent time learning on Khan Academy and are especially grateful to our community of supporters who make it all possible. 

Check out some of the things we accomplished in 2018! 

1. World-class learning around the world
More people than ever before use Khan Academy to learn and reach their potential!

World map of usage in 2018 

2. Equalizing access to college
Students’ ability to achieve their goals shouldn’t depend on their families’ ability to pay for test prep.

In 2018, 2.3 million students used Khan Academy to prepare for the SAT.

3. Doing more to reach the students who need it most
Lack of access to quality education is a persistent barrier to progress in the United States. This lack of opportunity disproportionately affects low-income families and students of color. To help make sure that all students have equal access, Khan Academy partners with teachers and school districts, particularly those who are reaching underserved students. Right now the population of students using Khan Academy mirrors the population of students in the United States. And we want to do even more to bring academic resources to those who need it.

US public school students by school income level

US public school students by school race distribution

4. Getting our littlest learners ready for kindergarten.
In July 2018, Khan Academy launched Khan Academy Kids, a free mobile app primarily for children ages two to six with no ads or in-app purchases.

In just five months we saw strong participation:

  • 1.4 million downloads
  • 5 million books read
  • 22 million math activities finished
  • 5 million social-emotional activities completed

These are just a few of the incredible things we were able to accomplish in 2018!

Check out our newly released 2018 annual report to learn more.

We’ve continued to make progress in 2019, and we plan to do even more. If you would like to be a part of the difference we are making, please give today!

Helping aspiring teachers reach higher with new Official Praxis® Core Prep

ven, 2019-07-26 17:16

Teachers and students are the heart of all that we do at Khan Academy. That’s why it was a no-brainer for us to partner with ETS,  the makers of the Praxis® exams, to help aspiring teachers enter the profession. Our new Khan Academy Official Praxis® Core Prep is a free, first-of-its-kind preparation resource which is now available for tomorrow’s educators. 

Watch our announcement video

Aspiring teachers can use Official Praxis® Core Prep to create a personalized learning plan to prepare for the Praxis® Core Academic Skills for Educators (Core) test, a key exam for many candidates entering teacher preparation programs. Using Official Praxis® Core Prep can strengthen the reading, writing, and math skills needed to succeed on the Praxis® Core test, in teacher preparation programs, and in the classroom.  

“There are a lot of resources out there that say they will help you, but they are expensive and you never know if they will really help,” said Vivica Foster, an aspiring teacher in Ohio who was part of the Official Praxis® Core Prep beta test. “Not only is it amazing that this program is free, but the number and variety of practice questions available really tested my knowledge and prepared me for test day."          

Together, Khan Academy and ETS hope to widen the path to teacher preparation programs and help diversify the teacher pipeline. A recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research underscores the importance of diversifying the pool of teachers. The study shows that having a Black teacher increases Black students’ high school graduation rates and likelihood of enrolling in college.                 

Official Praxis® Core Prep diagnoses teacher candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. Each learner then receives a personalized study plan to remediate skill gaps and help them succeed on test day. Official Praxis® Core Prep guides teacher candidates through a series of in-depth instructional materials—including practice questions, videos, and tips—that meet their unique needs. The program focuses on key subject matter areas and takes into consideration the time available to study for the test.

Khan Academy has a proven track record of leveling the playing field by providing access to high-quality test prep resources. Official Praxis® Core Prep is Khan Academy’s third free and official test prep program for high-stakes standardized exams. In 2015, Khan Academy launched Official SAT Practice with the College Board. Research shows this resource has driven substantial SAT score improvements regardless of gender, family income, race, or ethnicity with similar usage rates across demographics. In 2018 Khan Academy launched Official LSAT Prep, which is being used by more and more by aspiring law students, particularly African Americans, women, and economically disadvantaged students. 

To explore Khan Academy Official Praxis® Core Prep and begin practicing, visit https://www.khanacademy.org/praxis-core

Announcing Our New Partnership with NWEA to Accelerate Student Learning

lun, 2019-06-17 11:03

Teachers have long told us they want more actionable insights into the assessments they give every year in their classrooms to improve learning for every student.

That’s why we’re excited to announce that Khan Academy is partnering with NWEA, a mission-driven education nonprofit and maker of the gold-standard classroom assessment, MAP Growth.

Together we’re developing MAP Accelerator, a unique classroom tool designed to help teachers deeply integrate personalized learning and assessment to accelerate student achievement.

Watch our announcement video: 

MAP Accelerator will help teachers quickly and easily deliver a personalized learning path for every student based on their MAP Growth results. Teachers will be able to identify which students need extra help to fill gaps and unleash learning for students who are ready to move ahead.  Teachers can use MAP Accelerator to differentiate instruction for students with diverse academic needs, particularly traditionally underserved students.

“If I had to pick between an amazing teacher and amazing technology, I’d pick the teacher every time. That is why we wanted to build a tool that really empowers teachers. Partnering with NWEA takes our tools and resources for teachers to the next level,“ said Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy. "We’ve long heard from teachers who want to use MAP Growth as more than just a benchmark. Now teachers are able to inform personalized practice that integrates with any curriculum so they can help focus student learning on what is needed most. And it is simple and time-saving, which is super important since teachers already have so much on their plates.”

This fall, more than 150,000 students in four school districts will use MAP Accelerator as part of a limited pilot program. The districts include Madera Unified School District, Pajaro Valley Unified School District, and Glendale Unified School District in California; and Clark County School District in Nevada.

During the pilot year, MAP Accelerator will be available for grades 3-8 in math, English, and Spanish. English-language arts will be introduced the following school year when MAP Accelerator becomes universally available.

Visit the NWEA website to learn more and sign up for updates.

Old School, New School: Mastery-Based Learning

jeu, 2019-05-23 16:44

By Beatrice, a guest blogger who is a junior in high school

The high school I attend in Silicon Valley requires all juniors to spend one week participating in an internship or shadow week. I was lucky to be able to spend my week at Khan Academy.  During my shadow week, I learned how Khan Academy reaches people all over the world who are driven to deepen their education. It was also a chance to attend communications team meetings, learn about the testimonial process, and understand how press release requests are handled. Throughout the week, I also realized that Khan Academy, Khan Lab School and the Waldorf school that I attend share the belief that students understand concepts best through mastery-based learning—an educational pedagogy that allows students to learn at a pace that is suitable to them.

At first glance, it might seem surprising that an online learning experience like Khan Academy, a startup like Khan Lab School, and a Waldorf school that has roots in a philosophy that goes back nearly 100 years would have anything in common. (Waldorf schools are based on the teaching principles of Rudolf Steiner and were founded in the early 20th century.) Noticing the common thread of mastery came as a complete surprise during my shadow week. While there are many differences among the three organizations, mastery-based learning is an approach they share.  

At Khan Academy, over 200 team members are dedicated to providing learners all over the world with a free, world class education. Students, whether they are in classrooms or working independently, can go as fast or as slow as they want, and mastery is central to the way students learn and advance their understanding of Khan Academy subjects.

At Khan Lab School, mastery-based learning frequently occurs in blended or project-based environments. This approach advances the idea that students working in a self-paced setting will fully master concepts and skills. In many schools, the time students spent learning is constant and the level of content mastery varies. The opposite is true at Khan Lab School.  The amount of time it takes to learn something can be variable and everyone eventually achieves a mastery level understanding of each subject area. I also learned that students use Khan Academy at Khan Lab School, especially for math and computer science.

At Waldorf, mastery is neither blended or online, and our use of technology in high school classes is lower than at other schools. The Waldorf philosophy is based on the idea that a student’s natural desire to learn is unleashed in an environment where they are seen, feel safe, and have an opportunity to undertake hands-on work. I feel that the interdisciplinary and multimodal approach combined with the ability to resubmit work until it is mastered has given me agency over my learning, critical thinking skills, and a sense of empathy. At Waldorf, I have learned that it is not the academic skills that matter most but rather the ability to learn how to learn. Interestingly, Khan Lab School has a similar philosophy.

During my shadow week at Khan Academy, I learned that there are many different facets to the operational side of an educational organization. Shadowing Barb and Rachel from Khan Academy’s communications team gave me a feel for what they’re trying to get across to students, teachers, districts, and the wider world. One way they do this is by communicating with the media and arranging interviews for Sal, Khan Academy’s founder, and other members of the Khan Academy team. I enjoyed having a front row seat to this one area of Khan Academy.  

One last thing I’d like to share is that Khan Academy reaches 18 million learners a month in 190 countries in over 30 languages as a nonprofit. I personally know of many students who would not be able to use Khan Academy if they had to pay a subscription fee. During my shadow week, I encountered even more students around the world whose lives have been changed significantly by Khan Academy. Because it is a nonprofit, Khan Academy depends on donations from individuals to help sustain the work they are doing now and the work they need to do in the future. For me, it has been heartening to learn how individuals have been impacted around the world through access to Khan Academy. Onward!

About  Beatrice:

Beatrice is an 11th grade student at a Waldorf school in Silicon Valley. Prior to moving to California she attended public school in New York.

About Khan Academy:

Khan Academy is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization that relies on support from people like you. Please donate today.

Khan Academy students make it work in new documentary series

jeu, 2019-04-04 09:23

At Phillips Magnet Elementary School in Napa, California, where 65% of students are second-language learners and 85% come from low-income backgrounds, one group of students is bringing light to a community no longer willing to stay in the shadows.

Watch the trailer:


The new docuseries ‘Make it Work’, now available on Amazon Prime Video and The Roku Channel, features students who are inspired by their teacher and powered by lessons from Khan Academy. Follow their journey as they apply newfound skills to propose a public improvement project to make the streets around their school safer.

“I’m so proud of these students,” says Sal Khan, Khan Academy’s founder. “Their success shows us how students who have access to a high-quality education are able to unlock their full potential and accomplish great things. I want that for every child in America and around the world.”

Narrated by YouTube icon Hank Green and produced and directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Kip and Kern Konwiser—‘Miss Evers’ Boys’ and ‘On Hallowed Ground’—the four-part series follows young disruptors as they use imagination and innovation to improve their communities.

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