NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New School Model Receives High Marks

February 12, 2013

The Khan Academy, founded by former hedge fund analyst Salman Khan, uses instructional videos and interactive software combined with a new education model to improve student performance in the Los Altos school district in California's Silicon Valley, say Lance Izumi and Elliott Parisi of the Pacific Research Institute.

  • In the schools that tested videos and interactive software in a "flipped classroom," fifth and seventh graders' grade level exam averages improved by 106 percent relative to the year before.
  • The "flipped classroom" model has students view lecture-like instructional videos on subject matter at home and then uses class time for students to work on problems and in groups.

The Khan model also allows more students to benefit from individual time with teachers than traditional models. This means that the best teachers will have a greater effect and the cost of education for schools will be reduced because they will no longer need as many teachers for whole-group lectures.

Unfortunately, California laws hinder expanding the Khan Academy because the government has monopolistic control over education that limits the possibilities of school choice. Izumi and Parisi say that education bureaucrats are reluctant to envision change and numerous regulations hinder Khan-type programs from meeting state requirements.

  • Instead of focusing on the amount of seat time a student amasses, credit should be awarded for mastering subject matter.
  • In addition, funding formulas should be changed to allow per-pupil funds to follow students for the purposes of instruction received, regardless of how that content is delivered.
  • By adopting large-scale school choice reforms, education funding will encourage full competition between private, charter, online and traditional schools.
  • Removing the cap on charter school creation would allow new educational innovations to meet the demands of parents and students.

Source: Lance Izumi and Elliott Parisi, "One World School House vs. Old World Statehouse: The Khan Academy and California Red Tape," Pacific Research Institute, January 2013.


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