Khan Academy

Unlocking the potential of US students with mastery learning

Lead Organization

Khan Academy

Mountain View, California, United States

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Across the United States, millions of students—especially low-income and minority students—are not achieving their academic potential. A lack of differentiation and mastery-based instruction, insufficient support for teachers, unequal access to rigorous courses, and insufficient data for teachers and districts to make optimal choices are key contributors to this problem.Khan Academy has the high-quality content, technology platform, trusted brand, efficacy-based evidence, and organizational competency to deliver an initiative to implement mastery-based learning effectively in schools across the country. In partnership with districts, like-minded organizations like NWEA, and parents and families, we will provide a mastery-based learning program that enables students to develop fluency before progressing and empowers teachers to differentiate instruction. Together, we hope to provide over 15 million students across the United States the opportunity to dramatically increase academic achievement and prepare young people to thrive in the 21st century economy.

Problem Statement

Millions of US students don’t get the education they need. Sixty percent of fourth graders aren’t proficient in reading or math, and 40–60% of college students have to take remedial classes to learn material from much earlier grades. Low-income and minority students are disproportionately falling behind, exacerbating the persistent achievement gap. This is a national emergency that will prevent a large segment of the population from participating in the economy. The problem is fourfold:(1) The fixed-pace approach results in students accumulating learning gaps that become debilitating as they are pushed lock-step ahead. Despite teachers’ heroic efforts, it is impossible to truly personalize instruction with a classroom of more than 30 students at different levels.(2) Even if students overcome their learning gaps, many schools are unable to offer the rigorous courses that are precursors to future opportunity. One in four high schools with a majority of minority students doesn’t offer algebra; two out of three don’t offer AP courses.(3) Teachers struggle to differentiate instruction because they lack real-time, individual insights on students’ performance.(4) Districts lack actionable insights and cannot provide teachers with necessary support.What’s needed is a mastery-based approach to instruction that enables teachers to differentiate instruction so students can develop fluency before progressing. Research by Benjamin Bloom and 200 studies, including those involving Khan Academy, demonstrate that mastery learning is effective. Khan Academy is uniquely positioned to lead a transition to mastery learning that will supercharge learning in US classrooms at scale.

Solution Overview

Khan Academy will develop high-quality content and implement a product that will accelerate learning for students across the United States with a focus on reaching low-income and minority students. We will provide engaging, effective, standards-aligned content across academic subjects. These resources will enable teachers to guide students on an individually paced, mastery-based learning path focused on individual student needs and will encourage a growth mindset. Empowered with our tools, training, and insights, teachers who have more than 30 students at different levels will have an effective way to enable mastery-based learning. District leaders will receive robust insights on how their students are performing and how well our product is working. Finally, we will run measurable efficacy studies to demonstrate impact and drive continuous improvements of our product.This approach will support the efforts of critical stakeholders—students, teachers, parents, and administrators—to implement mastery-learning effectively. As a result, in five years, we expect our mastery-learning resources to reach over 15 million students in classrooms. Currently, students in classrooms using Khan Academy reflect the same demographic composition as US public schools, with about 50% from low-income or minority backgrounds. We anticipate this percentage to increase with additional partnerships focused on supporting the underserved. Khan Academy will make a measurable difference in the US K–12 education system and create a foundation to eventually unlock the potential of all 57 million K–12 students in the United States.

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