Pictured: Sal Khan, founder of Khan World School
Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, the online learning tool he started by making videos on YouTube, has launched a new virtual school in partnership with with Arizona State University Preparatory Academy, a nonprofit K-12 public charter school. Khan World School pitches itself as a way for self-motivated students to break out of the traditional classroom. This school blends self-paced online learning and group activities, a major step toward delivering on Khan’s larger vision of what he calls “a free world-class education for anyone, anywhere.”
Khan’s new project utilizes a mastery-based instructional model, targeting high-achieving, hardworking honors students who are enthusiastic about learning. It functions as an independent school that can also be scaled down to use alongside physical programs to supplement them. Its advertising materials emphasize the community component with daily seminars, small group tutorials, peer tutoring through Schoolhouse.world (Khan’s free, online peer-tutoring website), and student-driven projects outside of school. So far, the experiment has been successful with students sailing through internal assessments, according to Khan.
All Khan World School students take a live course called Seminar, which blends reading, writing, speaking, listening, and debating the most compelling questions we face in our world today. The sessions are student-led but supported by a learning guide and guest experts. Other classes are self-paced where students work through online lessons on their own using Khan Academy and ASU courses (giving you the chance to earn university credit in high school). While the school focuses on demonstrating mastery of a subject rather than grades, students will still receive a transcript with final grades for college admissions and scholarships.
Khan World School is somewhat unique in that it’s a full-time virtual school not limited to a single state. Arizona pays the tuition for students who live in the state because of ASU Prep’s charter status. Students in other states pay $9,900 per year, and for non-U.S. students, the tuition bill runs $12,900 per year. Khan said, “I actually think it is now true that anyone in the state of Arizona has access to a free world-class education. And then outside of Arizona, it’s affordable, it’s still here. It’s not dirt cheap, but it’s accessible.”
Amy McGrath, chief operating officer of ASU Prep, said that she expected students in Khan World School, which launched in the Fall 2022 semester, to mostly come from Arizona due to the free taxpayer-funded tuition. But the first group of 50 ninth graders to enroll in the new online school actually came from six states and eight countries, she told EdSurge. The school’s leaders plan to admit a couple of hundred 6-12 students over the next three to four years. This aligns with Khan’s plan to bring quality education to top students all over the world.
“Khan World School at ASU Prep will unleash the potential of a new generation of students that will change the world we live in for the better. We do this by maximizing opportunities for student mastery, agency, collaboration and passion. A LOT of thought went into translating the vision from my book The One World Schoolhouse into a comprehensive and engaging high school model… where we value self-motivation, curiosity, and creativity over compliance.” – Sal Khan