Back to School


Foundation Work Targets ESL Learners
The Sobrato Family Foundation commemorated 20 years of service this year, with a renewed commitment to improve English language and literacy in California. The Bay Area foundation has made early education a top priority and kicked-off their new campaign with $29 million to expand the Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) education model.

SEAL began in 2008 as a pilot program in Silicon Valley; it has since expanded to 87 schools across 16 California districts. The goal of the model is to develop new language programs that build upon students' existing cultures to help them succeed in American schools. With an estimated 25 percent of California public school students learning English as a second language, the need is great. Recent legislation has loosened restrictions around ESL lessons, allowing programs like SEAL to innovate and rethink the way students learn. Currently, SEAL is focused on improving teacher capacity in early education classrooms, with hopes to expand to more schools and attract additional donors to the space. LEARN MORE

Free SAT Prep Tool Sees 115-Point Boost
Khan Academy's free educational resources ensure a level playing field for motivated kids. The nonprofit organization and HAND grant recipient offers online content covering all subjects and grade levels, including standardized test prep. Twenty hours spent using their SAT practice tool has been linked to an average 115-point score increase - a meaningful difference when it comes to applying to college.

The Official SAT Practice tool is flexible and customized for each student. In partnership with College Board, Khan Academy identifies which PSAT/SAT problems a student missed and, using their machine learning algorithm, directs students to videos and problem sets to improve their score. Even six hours of study can result in a 90-point gain. Upon analyzing the results, score improvements were found to be consistent across social and economic factors, like family income, race, and gender. Reportedly used by 40 percent of test takers, Khan Academy's Official SAT Practice is clearly measuring up! LEARN MORE

Why Advanced Learners Should Be a Bigger Part of Education Reform
The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is a public policy think tank, encouraging the exchange of ideas and sparking conversation around the world's most pressing problems. It recently released a report exploring why it is important to invest in the talents of today's brightest youth. Academically advanced students are largely left out of reform discussions, yet shouldn't the education system be equipped to help every student achieve their highest potential?

The report reminds us that bright students come from a variety of upbringings. Many rely on public schools to prepare for college, but the necessary resources don't always exist. If a student is unable to compete at the college level, they miss out on leadership positions reserved for elite college graduates. This opportunity gap not only affects the individual; research shows that gifted students contribute disproportionately to innovation and GDP as adults. While resources should not necessarily be equal, the report encourages us to rethink the allocation of funds to better support these students and benefit society. LEARN MORE