College & Workforce Readiness

College Board Enlists Khan Academy for SAT Prep

By Benjamin Herold — March 10, 2014 3 min read

It’s not just the SAT itself that’s changing.

Soon, students will be able to prepare for the high-stakes college-entrance exam by going on an online “SAT quest,” complete with custom practice problems, instructional videos, and tailored feedback offered by the popular nonprofit learning website Khan Academy.

Officials from both Khan Academy and the College Board, which administers the SAT, billed the new partnership as an opportunity to level the highly competitive—and often expensive—playing field of SAT test-preparation.

“The College Board cannot stand by while some test-prep providers intimidate parents at all levels of income into the belief that the only way to secure their child’s success is to pay for costly test preparation and coaching,” College Board President David Coleman said in prepared remarks delivered March 5 here, where the South by Southwest education conference took place last week. “It’s time to shake things up.”

‘Interactivity’ and ‘Richness’

Beginning immediately, students and other users will be able to access hundreds of previously unreleased questions from past SAT exams, as well as videos with step-by-step solutions, on the Khan Academy website.

To help students prepare for the new exam, set to debut in 2016, Khan Academy next spring will release materials and tools bearing the College Board brand, including adaptive and game-based online instructional offerings that can gauge where individual students are in their preparations for the SAT, and provide customized feedback.

Khan Academy founder Sal Khan told reporters that the forthcoming materials would offer “interactivity, quality, and richness,” with students getting “very personalized feedback through the exercise.”

The redesigned SAT exam will represent a major change, with greater emphasis on citing evidence to support answers, more focus on analyzing arguments, and fewer areas of math coverage.

Sal Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, speaks at an event in Austin, Texas, about his organization’s new partnership with the College Board to provide free online test preparation for the SAT. At left is David Coleman, who became the president of the College Board in 2012.

During a media briefing with reporters, Mr. Khan and Mr. Coleman acknowledged that providing online preparation materials for math—where “productive practice” of discrete skills can lead to rapid learning gains—will be easier than for reading or writing.

“This will take some work,” Mr. Coleman said.

The digital divide is also a “real issue for us” that’s “not going to be solved overnight,” said Mr. Khan.

Recent data suggest many families still lack broadband access. A 2013 survey by the Pew Research Internet Project found that 70 percent of U.S. adults have broadband connections at home. The figure for blacks was 62 percent,and for Hispanics 56 percent. And for those adults lacking a high school diploma, just 28 percent have broadband at home.

Mr. Coleman said the College Board will invest in partnerships with schools, public libraries, after-school programs, and Boys & Girls Clubs to help make sure there is equitable access to the Khan Academy resources. Mr. Khan, meanwhile, emphasized that his organization’s online resources work best when a “great teacher, coach, or parent is involved as a stakeholder,” helping students absorb and make use of the feedback they receive.

Mr. Coleman and Mr. Khan told reporters that the new marriage “happened quickly” and will not involve any exchange of money between the two organizations.

FairTest, an advocacy group critical of the SAT, questioned whether the new relationship will have its intended effect.

“The partnership with the Khan Academy is unlikely to make a dent in the huge market for high-priced, personalized SAT workshops and tutoring that only well-to-do families can afford,” said Robert A. Schaeffer, FairTest’s public education director, in a statement.

Some critics also said the College Board seemed to be sending conflicting signals by promising an exam that would not encourage cramming and test-taking “tricks,” even while it offers a test-prep program.

In any case, Mr. Coleman was enthusiastic about the plans.

“The College Board has never before entrusted our name to an external organization to ensure the materials students encounter are faithfully aligned to the challenges of our assessment,” Mr. Coleman said in his prepared remarks. “May I simply say, [Khan Academy’s] work is beautiful, and based on evidence of what most accelerates students’ learning.”

Special coverage on the alignment between K-12 schools and postsecondary education is supported in part by a grant from the Lumina Foundation, at www.luminafoundation.org. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.
A version of this article appeared in the March 12, 2014 edition of Education Week as Khan Academy Recruited to Provide Online SAT Prep

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Special Education Teachers
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

College & Workforce Readiness Opinion I'm a First-Generation American. Here's What Helped Me Make It to College
A college junior shares three ways to help immigrant and first-generation students succeed in education.
Roni Lezama
4 min read
Supportive hand holds up a student who is reaching for a star
iStock/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness Documentary A Year Interrupted
When COVID-19 closed schools for millions of students, Education Week documented two seniors as they faced an uncertain future.
1 min read
College & Workforce Readiness COVID-19's Disproportionate Toll on Class of 2020 Graduates
The pandemic hit college-bound members of the class of 2020 from low-income homes much harder than it did their better-off peers, our survey found.
6 min read
Magdalena Estiverne graduated from high school this past spring during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is currently taking online community college classes.
Magdalena Estiverne graduated from high school this past spring during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is currently taking online community college classes.
Eve Edelheit for Education Week
College & Workforce Readiness Conflicting Messages Exacerbate Student Detours on the Road to College
Amid the many disruptions of the COVID-19 era, it’s more important than ever for educators to be consistent about the admissions requirements—and the costs—of college.
7 min read
Liz Ogolo, 18, who is attending Harvard University this fall, said the transition to college was difficult without guidance from her high school, which switched to remote learning in the spring.
Liz Ogolo, 18, who is attending Harvard University this fall, said the transition to college was difficult without guidance from her high school, which switched to remote learning in the spring.
Angela Rowlings for Education Week