By guest blogger Stephen Sawchuk
The College Board, which adminsters the Advanced Placement program, and Khan Academy, an online nonprofit offering resources and videos, are teaming up to create a supply of free test-preparation and course materials for teachers and students in every AP subject, the groups announced today.
It’s essentially the deepening of what the organizations say has been a successful partnership, begun in 2014, to offer free online resources and tutoring for the SAT college-entrance examination.
The new teacher supports will roll out in the 2019-20 school year, the groups announced at the annual AP conference here. Using an online dashboard, teachers will be able to create customized quizzes, homework, classroom activities, and AP practice using the new materials, as well as access unit guides for the major topics in AP subjects and related unit tests. They can assign instructional videos and practice questions from the Khan Academy to their students, and they’ll also have access to previously administered AP exam questions and prompts.
Separately from the teacher resources, the Khan Academy will host additional practice materials, videos, and supports for students on its popular website, pegged to 24 AP subjects. It will begin by hosting AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC videos and expand in the next few months to economics, biology, and physics, among other subjects.
College Board President David Coleman said the resources respond to a request from teachers and students for personalized resources to help them break down AP expectations and better prepare for the year-end exams.
It’s also a reflection of the AP’s shift from an elite program to one that more students with a range of academic backgrounds take, he said.
“You might say we’re offering every AP teacher a personalized assistant in their classroom,” Coleman said. “We’re giving them an ability throughout the year to show what good enough work is, to have confidence that assignments derived from these materials are at the right level of rigor.”
The emphasis on teachers is intentional, the partners said, because the community of AP teachers is much more close-knit than the rather diffuse group of teachers that handle preparation for college-entrance exams.
“The AP materials we’re talking about are meant to be used in classrooms as a formative process,” said Salman Khan, the creator of the Khan Academy.
As with its free SAT resources, Khan Academy won’t require students to create profiles to access the materials, but those who do log in will be able to set up personalized programs for gauging their progress over time towards mastery of the AP material.
Justin Seifts, a teacher from Chapel Hill, N.C., said the he found the announcement “super exciting,” though he was also disappointed that his subject, AP Spanish Language, wasn’t among those initially named for the Khan Academy supports.
But overall, he said that coherent resources for developing AP curriculum “don’t really exist in that way. The homework piece really stands out.”
The partners’ SAT efforts were, in part, meant to help students without the means to pay for expensive, private exam tutoring to get high-quality help and support for the exam. Disparities in access to AP courses also remain wide. It’s not clear whether or how this effort will affect some of those coursetaking patterns, but it’s worth watching.
The College Board and Khan Academy announced their partnership in 2014 and rolled out the online resources for the SAT the following year. Earlier this year, they reported correlations between the number of hours students spent on the practice system and point gains in their scores on the PSAT to the SAT.
The College Board plans to conduct similar research on the AP resources. For example, it could whether students who were on track to earn an AP score of 2 and went on to score a 3 made use of the free tools. (A score of 3 on the AP is the benchmark that typically confers college credit.)
A version of this news article first appeared in the High School & Beyond blog.