Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Partners with College Board—But What Does...

Higher Education

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Partners with College Board—But What Does That Mean?

By Sydney Johnson     May 16, 2017

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Partners with College Board—But What Does That Mean?

Mark Zuckerberg may be a college dropout, but that’s not stopping him and Priscilla Chan from trying to help more students access higher education. Today the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) announced a grant partnership with the College Board in an effort to expand access to test preparation tools for assessments such as the PSAT and SAT.

No financial details were shared. (Amy Dudley, a spokesperson for CZI, says the organization doesn’t share any of its funding amounts for grants.)

According to College Board’s Senior Director of Media Relations, Zachary Goldberg, the partnership will focus on giving students in lower-income communities and rural areas greater access to college pathway advisors and SAT prep mediums like Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy.

Khan Academy already offers free personalized test prep resources online. (It made a splashy announcement of its own last year.) However, Goldberg says the aim of this new partnership will be to fund partner organizations, like the Council of the Great City Schools, to to work with school districts to create in-school and after-school programs where students work with instructors on the Khan Academy resources.

According to a recent study by Khan Academy, students who spent at least 20 hours using its free SAT prep materials gained an average of 115 points on their exam, nearly twice as much as those who didn’t use the platform. In addition Goldberg says that students are more likely to compete more of the practice materials if an instructor is present.

“We have seen that including caring adults is so important to growing Khan Academy participations, and these organizations will be on the ground able to set that up,” he says.

Another big push for the partnership is to make AP Computer Science Principles (AP CSP) available in every U.S. district. College Board will be working with organizations like the National Rural Education Association to identify schools where this course is not available and assist in setting up the course for next year.

CZI and the College Board will also be working to connect more students to College Advising Corps advisors, who work full time in high schools to help students on their path to college. Goldberg says some of the grant money may go towards funding new positions for increased peer advisor presence.

CZI will also fund researchers Angela Duckworth, best known for her study on grit, and Stanford Psychology professor Greg Walton to study invisible barriers to higher education such as academic motivation, dedication and sense of belonging.

Students will not get money to subsidize them taking the tests. Goldberg clarifies the focus of the outreach is to instead to expand awareness and increase access to personalized study materials like that Khan Academy provides.

Goldberg says: “We will work closely with our partner organizations, who are able to help us bring the resources and pathways on the ground into isolated communities.”

Other organizations that the College Board and CZI will be partnering with include Character Lab, TNTP and Stanford University, plus districts and states across the country.

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