Jaide Kelly, a 16-year-old from Suwanee, Ga., said she often uses Khan Academy to master geometry and raise her SAT scores. (Courtesy photo)
Jaide Kelly, a 16-year-old from Suwanee, Ga., said she often uses Khan Academy to master geometry and raise her SAT scores. (Courtesy photo)

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only exacerbated learning loss among students of all ages, but compelled education leaders to embrace curricula and technology tailored to people of various learning styles and skill levels.

As students across the country ease back into in-person learning, an online education pioneer is gearing up for a National SAT Prep Day that, much like its products, rejects a one-size-fits-all style of education and helps students strengthen their understanding of foundational English and math concepts.

“The process of students having gaps and the system expecting them to move on has happened for years and we know where that leads,” said Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, a nonprofit that provides a free education for students globally.

Khan Academy, in conjunction with College Board, will host National SAT Prep Day on Sept.18 via YouTube to help students practice for the test that, in part, determines college admission.

During this event, participants, as many have done with Khan Academy in the past, will navigate practice SAT problems and gain an understanding of their skills gaps that impede their academic progress.

“There are kids who are graduating from high school and trying to go to college,” Khan told The Informer. “Even though they’ve taken classes, the colleges are showing them that they have so many gaps that they’re going back to seventh grade [content]. It’s demoralizing.”

Remedial education, a process where first-year college students take non-credit grade school-level courses, costs students $1.3 billion annually and, some researchers say, hints at the public school system’s failure to prepare students for undergraduate coursework.

In July, research conducted by NWEA determined that students of color, particularly those in elementary school and high poverty areas, experienced a decline in achievement during the pandemic. In the winter and spring months of the 2020-2021 school year, students made less progress than what school districts recorded in years past.

The largest declines happened in math, which Khan said indicates students’ need to master elementary concepts that can ease their understanding of higher level material in the future.

Since its inception in 2008, Khan Academy has provided, to students in the U.S. and nearly 200 countries,  tens of thousands of online practice problems and videos that cover a range of K-12 subjects.

In 2013, Khan Academy and College Board established a partnership to help students score high on the SAT.

A key component of Khan Academy involves the real-time assortment of practice problems in accordance with each student’s skill level and progress. Problems, and accompanying videos, focus on skills giving students difficulty. School districts across the country partner with Khan Academy to provide differentiated instruction in historically disadvantaged communities.

Jaide Kelly, a high school junior from Suwanee, Ga., credited Khan Academy with highlighting her problem areas in the realms of geometry, and placing her on a path where she could reach her goal of 1300 out of 1600 on the SAT and attend the college of her choice.

Since she started high school, Jaide has taken the SAT three times, including last month after practicing on Khan Academy throughout the pandemic with her tutor’s guidance.

Jaide expressed plans to take the SAT two more times this year, but not before tackling several more geometry problems on Khan Academy.

“If you need to practice a lot, Khan Academy is a great website [because] it’s free if you can’t afford a tutor or coach,” said Jaide, a 16 year old with plans to pursue medicine.

“It’s what you need to help with your scores [with] personalized tests and videos. Khan Academy is a great tool for learning the SAT.”

Sam P.K. Collins

Sam P.K. Collins has more than a decade of experience as a journalist, columnist and organizer. Sam, a millennial and former editor of WI Bridge, covers education, police brutality, politics, and other...

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