Making an Impact

Partnership with Khan Academy set to propel students academically

 

Over the past year, a partnership between Khan Academy and the Catholic Schools Center of Excellence (CSCOE) has enhanced student growth in areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Through online mentoring tools and resources, schools and students are able to easily use Khan Academy for a number of different educational purposes. Khan Academy’s mission is to “provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.” Khan offers free online lessons that move a student progressively through mathematical concepts using short video lessons.

Kindergarten through eighth grade students in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis score higher than the national and regional averages in math, but there’s still room for improvement, according to Mike Strommen, former principal of St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Vermillion.

“Khan Academy was at the top of the list of partners in this effort [to improve students’ test scores] since its online math tool is one of the most widely used in the world and is excellent,” said Strommen, who serves as a liaison between Khan Academy and CSCOE.

 

“In this way, each student learns at their ‘just right’ level.”

 

CSCOE implemented a yearlong pilot program with Khan Academy to demonstrate the value of its mathematics tool. In August, 62 fourth and fifth grade teachers from the Archdiocese attended Khan Academy-led training. CSCOE will gauge its effectiveness by measuring standardized test scores and, if proven successful, will roll out the program to additional teachers next year.

“This is really a win-win situation,” Strommen noted of the partnership. “Our teachers get insight on how to most effectively leverage this world-class tool, and Khan Academy gets candid feedback from innovative teachers on how the tool could be better.”

“I used Khan for the past two years in accelerated math class and witnessed many students jumping two or more grade levels in one year,” Strommen said.

To help students, Khan Academy provides many different free tools; some are meant to be implemented by teachers, and some are student-directed. One important way Khan Academy can be used is to change and improve the relationship between the teacher and student. Strommen noted that it can result in students taking more ownership of their learning and allowing them to learn at their own pace.

“The teacher’s role then shifts from the ‘sage on the stage’ (the person who delivers information) to the ‘guide on the side’ (the person who coaches students on their learning journey),” he said. “In this way, each student learns at their ‘just right’ level.”

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