PRI: Flip the regulations

Students are learning more in “flipped” classes that use Khan Academy lessons, concludes a Pacific Research Institute report by Lance Izumi and Elliott Parisi. Furthermore, flipping could save tax dollars and extend the reach of excellent teachers. However, the free-market think tank sees bureaucratic obstacles to the spread of flipped and blended learning.

In a pilot in a Silicon Valley school district, some fifth- and seventh-grade math teachers used Khan’s instructional videos and student-tracking software. During class, students worked on problems and projects in small groups or directly with the teacher. Math scores rose, writes founder Salman Khan in The One World Schoolhouse. Twice as many seventh graders reached grade level. With each student working at his or her own pace, “we were seeing that students who were put in the ‘slower’ math classes could actually leapfrog ahead of their ‘non-slow’ peers,”  Khan writes.

Urban charter schools also piloted Khan math lessons. At an inner-city Oakland charter school, sixth graders who started with a third-grade mastery of math reached the  fifth- and sixth-grade level in six months, Khan writes.

Excellent teachers can work with more students in a flipped set-up, argues the report, citing education technology experts Bryan Hassel and Emily Ayscue Hassel.

. . . if one class out of four in a school’s 4th grade has an excellent teacher, and she spends half her instructional time on whole group instruction and half on more dynamic/personalized learning, then if Khan takes over the former whole-group instruction, two 4th grade classes could have that teacher just for personalized/dynamic learning.

A relatively low-cost aide can supervise computer labs where students view lessons, saving money. That’s the model at Rocketship charter elementary schools, which are posting very strong test scores.

To expand Khan Academy, Izumi and Parisi recommend awarding credit for mastering subject matter rather that “seat time,” changing state funding to follow students to online and blended-learning courses and expanding school choice.

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  1. Consider the implications of this in relation to the “high cost of iPads” argument – this is the sort of approach to teaching, with individualized pacing of portions of the instruction and testing, that is possible with technology, and is natural on an iPad, but that would be cumbersome and far less effective through printed books and worksheets.

  2. Yes. I agree in flipping the classroom.

    No. I do not agree with replacing teachers with computers and ‘low paid aides.’

    There is another dynamic social relationship to be considered in this. Wouldn’t it be even STRONGER to have this flipped concept where the students still get their teacher?

    Also, how does the direct instruction on Khan fit with the deeper common core standards? I think there are a lot of questions still to be answered.

  3. This is not a study but a thinly disguised bit of advocacy. I like the Khan model, particularly for math, but this report isn’t scientific at all. I’d love to see real research on flipping, but this isn’t it.