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OUHS is a charter school that serves the east side of Oakland. They started their pilot with incoming 9th graders, although 10th graders and upperclassmen also used Khan Academy by the end of the year. Students used Khan Academy in a learning lab 4 days a week in addition to their normal math class.

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Teachers primarily used Khan Academy to 1) identify and fill gaps in student knowledge, and 2) support lessons being taught in math class. Throughout the year, students gained more confidence and took responsibility over their own learning, which translated into significant academic achievement. After this pilot, OUHS plans to scale Khan Academy into all math classes.

In September 2011, Oakland Unity High School (OUHS) in Oakland, Calif. introduced a rotation blended learning program using Khan Academy in Algebra 1 and Algebra Readiness. This program served all incoming high school freshmen.


Oakland Unity High School is a high expectation school with a safe environment, rigorous curriculum, and intensive supports. Approximately 95% of students are Latino or African-American and 85% receive free or reduced lunch at OUHS.

In the summer of 2010, the school conducted a diagnostic test with all incoming freshman to evaluate basic algebra and arithmetic skills. Most students needed to retake an Algebra Readiness or Algebra 1 course. The number of students scoring below basic (approximate score of 40%) decreased from 77% to 28%. The number scoring above proficient (approximate score of 60%) increased from 9% to 32%.

In September 2011, the school implemented a rotation blended learning model with a Khan Academy learning lab for all students enrolled in an Algebra Readiness or Algebra 1 course to close a “learning and confidence” gap with its students. Students work in an online environment during the Learning Lab to work on content that directly supports instruction in their math course. Instructors collaborate on a weekly basis to ensure that course curriculum is aligned and sequenced.

This year’s Algebra Readiness and Algebra 1 students scored consistently higher on solving equations, absolute value and the first semester final exams. That margin grew substantially for the most rigorous test on systems of equations (from 37% to 74%). This suggested that improved habits through the Khan Academy approach were creating real improvements among students. This evidence of superior performance was reinforced by the increased portion of scores above 80% on all of the tests.


Many Khan Academy features increased the quality and quantity of practice work among the OUHS students:

  • Most exercises are not multiple-choice, which eliminates guessing
  • Questions are randomly generated, which eliminates copying
  • The short video clips engaged students and allowed them to replay the material until they understood it; and
  • The online environment and Khan Academy’s overall design appeals to the students, resulting in significant engagement time.
  • Students completed the Khan Academy exercises, finished written homework, paid attention in class and gained confidence to approach challenging problems. We truly believe that the Khan Academy approach met student’s learning needs in order to deliver real learning in math proficiency.

Findings are from the report “Are We Asking the Right Questions?” assembled by David Castillo and Peter McIntosh. Learn more at unityhigh.org.

Oakland Unity in the press: