Unity High School Khan Academy Blended Learning Program
Oakland Unity High School (OUHS) in Oakland, Calif. introduced a rotation blended learning program using Khan Academy, a free, online resource for math and science videos, with its Algebra 1 and Algebra Readiness students in September 2011.
- Serves incoming high school freshman
- Rotation blended learning using Khan Academy
Oakland Unity High School is a high expectation school with a safe environment, rigorous curriculum, and intensive supports that are responsive to the individual needs of students and allow them to achieve academic success and positive social and cultural development. Approximately 95 percent of students are Latino or African-American and 85 percent receive free or reduced lunch at OUHS.
In the summer of 2010, the school conducted a diagnostic test with all incoming freshman to evaluate basic algebra and arithmetic skills. Most students needed to retake an Algebra Readiness or Algebra 1 course. The number of students scoring below basic (approximately score of 40 percent) decreased from 77 percent to 28 percent. The number scoring above proficient (approximately score of 60 percent) increased from 9 percent to 32 percent.
In September 2011, the school implemented a rotation blended learning model with a Khan Academy learning lab for all students enrolled in an Algebra Readiness or Algebra 1 course to close a “learning and confidence” gap with its students. Students work in an online environment during the Learning Lab to work on content that directly supports instruction in their math course. Instructors collaborate on a weekly basis to ensure that course curriculum is aligned and sequenced.
This year’s Algebra Readiness and Algebra 1 students scored consistently higher on solving equations, absolute value and the first semester final exams. That margin grew substantially for the most rigorous test on systems of equations (from 37 percent to 74 percent). This suggested that improved habits through the Khan Academy approach were creating real improvements among students. This evidence of superior performance was reinforced by the increased portion of scores above 80 percent on all of the tests.
Many Khan Academy features increased the quality and quantity of practice work among the OUHS students:
- Most exercises are not multiple-choice, which eliminates guessing
- Questions are randomly generated, which eliminates copying
- The short video clips engaged students and allowed them to replay the material until they understood it; and
- The online environment and Khan Academy’s overall design appeals to the students, resulting in significant engagement time.
Students completed the Khan Academy exercises, finished written homework, paid attention in class and gained confidence to approach challenging problems. We truly believe that the Khan Academy approach met student’s learning needs in order to deliver real learning in math proficiency.