Note: The information in this profile represents SY2010-11 unless otherwise indicated.

School/organization overview

Name Los Altos School District
Type District
Locale Suburban
Headquarters Los Altos, California
First year of operation Before 2000
Grades served K-8
Enrollment 4,500
% FRL 3%
% Black or Hispanic 8%
Per-pupil funding $9,500

Blended-learning program

Name Khan Academy Collaborative Partnership
Focus General
Year launched SY2010-11
Outside investments/grants $0
Enrollment 1,000+
Blended grades 5-8
Blended subjects Math
Content Khan Academy
SIS PowerSchool
Independent LMS None
Independent gradebook None
Independent assessment None
Professional development None

Program model

Program model: Station Rotation

Model description
For a fixed amount of time each day, students rotate through Khan Academy Goals, Khan Academy Challenges, and group projects and instruction. Teachers use Khan Academy data to drive instruction and interventions.

Program background

History and context
Los Altos School District has a history of strong performance and tied as the top-scoring district in California on the 2011 Academic Performance Index (API). A strong belief among the district that 21s- century learning and innovation is important to every student’s education motivated the adoption of Khan Academy to supplement existing math curriculum.

In 2010, Los Altos School District worked closely with Khan Academy to launch a pilot program in three 5th grade classes and two 7th grade classes. Students were provided with laptops and worked at their own pace through the Khan Academy math program during designated periods of time during the school day. Teachers and administrators soon noticed increased student engagement, enthusiasm, ownership, and performance.

In the 2011-2012 school year, the program expanded to include all nine schools, all 5th and 6th grade classrooms, and many 7th and 8th grade math classes. Over 1,000 students in Los Altos School District use Khan Academy for math instruction and practice.

During the initial pilot, representatives from the district met every few weeks with Khan Academy to create a very tight design loop to help improve an already tremendous electronic tool. Los Altos School District continues to work closely with the Khan Academy implementation team.

Blended model
As directed by individual teachers, students are required to spend fixed amounts of time working on math via Khan Academy during their math period. Students move through the Khan Academy lessons and practice exercises at their own pace, and teachers receive real-time data on student performance.

Using Khan Academy in the classroom allows students to set individual goals that focus on their needs and then allows them to work at their ability to achieve those goals. While students are working independently and collaboratively with each other, there is more time for the teacher to work one-on-one with students who are struggling and need further intervention.

Khan Academy concepts are arranged on a “Knowledge Map” which builds from the most basic mathematical concept to more complex concepts covered in high school calculus. Students work through practice exercises and tutorials, watching instructional videos when more explanation is needed. The software suggests next steps for students and provides teachers with a wealth of individualized student data on both concepts mastered and areas of struggle. Teachers use the data generated through Khan Academy, received in real-time in the classroom and searchable later, to group students according to their instructional need and provide targeted math instruction.

Khan Academy supplements and integrates with the current Los Altos School District math curriculum, including project-based learning. For example, before embarking on a project to create a floor plan that tests knowledge of the area of polygons, the teacher might leverage the dashboard to make sure all students have the foundational skills necessary. Teachers can group students by skill or area of struggle, and Khan Academy can facilitate peer tutoring, allowing kids who have mastered a lesson to coach others who are still working on it.

The key is that with Khan Academy, teachers are able to base their decisions on real-time data and have the flexibility and tools to be able to differentiate the instruction. The blended-learning environment in Los Altos schools provides for targeted intervention, flexible groupings, data-driven instruction, active coaching, meaningful collaboration, personal goal-setting, and increased student voice and choice.

Notable results
No scientific study has yet been conducted, but one measure of success has been the California Standards Test (CST) that Los Altos students took at the end of the 2010-2011 school year. In two of the 7th grade classrooms where students did not historically perform well in math, there were significant increases in CST scores. Forty-one percent of the students were proficient or advanced, compared to just 23 percent the prior year. In the 5th grade classrooms, Los Altos students historically perform quite well and they continued to do so. Over 96 percent of students in the pilot classrooms were proficient or advanced, but that is comparable to the non-pilot district-wide performance (91 percent). However, CST exam results do not tell the whole story, since the test only measures performance on grade-level skills. Significant benefits in allowing students to challenging themselves with more advanced topics were also noticed with Khan Academy. The district is now working on how to better evaluate these above-grade-level learning gains.

On the horizon
Los Altos School District hopes to acquire more laptops to create a 1:1 environment in the future. Administrators are also open to exploring the possibility of using Khan Academy and/or other online resources to enrich subject areas other than math.

Teachers, students, and administrators maintain a blog on Los Altos School District’s website as a way to continually monitor progress with the program.

Los Altos School District continues to work closely with the Khan Academy team to provide feedback to improve the product and its implementation. Students are encouraged to give feedback on how the Khan Academy program works. Teachers in the district are encouraged to try many different implementation techniques and to use the data they receive from Khan Academy in more innovative ways.


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