National education publication features Idaho

Ed Week, a national news source that covers K-12 education, published an in-depth article about the Khan Academy’s upcoming presence in Idaho.

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 10.21.36 AMThe article points out that more than 10,000 students in nearly four dozen schools across Idaho will log into newly created Khan Academy accounts during the 2013-14 school year as part of an initiative that aims to infuse technology into instruction and supplement teachers’ curricula.

This is the first statewide effort in the country to integrate content from the online Khan Academy into school curricula. This effort is funded with $1.5 million from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation.

“What a typical math classroom looks like has not changed for over 100 years,” says Khan Academy founder Sal Khan. “What is powerful about the Khan Academy pilots in Idaho is that they are showing that the model can be rethought using technology and that, ironically, the technology makes the classrooms more human for the teachers and students. It has also made the teachers that much more valuable.”

According to Khan Academy’s Maureen Suhendra, over 20,000 classrooms all over the world are currently using the site. “But this is the first time Khan Academy is partnering to tackle the math education of an entire state,” says Suhendra.

“The data shows that the majority of Idaho students struggle with math,” says Jamie MacMillan, executive director of the Albertson Foundation. “We think accelerating the use of Khan Academy in Idaho classrooms will not only bolster student math achievement, it may also redefine what learning can and should look like in our state. Idaho math educators have expressed an incredible amount of enthusiasm for this concept and we are excited to see the results.”

A project team from Northwest Nazarene University’s College of Education in Nampa will manage and facilitate the project.

Members of Khan Academy’s school implementation team were in Idaho in October to conduct a two-day workshop sponsored for free by the Albertson Foundation in partnership with NNU. More than 225 math educators from public, private and after school programs from around the state participated.

“We were incredibly impressed with the group of math educators we met during the two-day workshop,” says Suhendra. “In the first hour of the workshop, the high energy the teachers and administrators brought was palpable, and we were amazed at how it never seemed to stop. We saw educators who had never met each other come together to brainstorm, problem-solve, and write up tactical action plans for meeting the needs of all students. It was an inspiring event, and we are excited to see what happens as the momentum continues.”

According to the 2011 Nation’s Report Card, only 39 percent of Idaho fourth graders and 37 percent of eighth graders were proficient or advanced in math. In 2011, 4th graders in several neighboring states ranked higher in the proficient or advanced categories in Washington (45%), Wyoming (43%), Montana (45%) and Colorado (47%).

“We think it is important that our students have high quality academic choices no matter where they live. By providing math educators with the technology and the training to effectively use Khan Academy, they’ll be able to deliver blended learning that is world-class, personalized and mastery-based,” says MacMillan. “What is really exciting is that student achievement data will tell us very quickly how well this approach is working.”

Full implementation of the pilots will start in the fall of 2013. More than 75 schools applied to be participants, and grants were awarded to 47 regular public, charter, and private schools throughout the state.

Disclosure: Idaho Education News is funded through a grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation.