Education White Papers

These papers explore important education practices and policies. They aim to explain and provide insight into issues facing students, parents, teachers, schools, and districts.

Khan Academy in 7th Grade Math Classes: A Case Study

June 2019

Similar to other studies of Khan Academy, this is an implementation study. It was conducted in two districts, with six participating 7th grade classrooms and three teachers. The study puts forth questions about who Khan Academy is serving best and the learning affordances of different features of the product. The study’s data are primarily qualitative in nature, drawn from over 28 Khan Academy-focused classroom observations, focus groups with over 100 students, and teacher interviews.

Overall, the study found that Khan Academy is a useful tool, and that teachers and students appreciated it as a resource for practice and reinforcement of math learning. At the same time, we also have concerns about the potential of edtech products like Khan Academy to, unintentionally, exacerbate the achievement gap. We hope this study will be a call for additional research into how to best support struggling learners, and that developers integrate that research into their product designs.

Extended Time: No Longer Optional

September 2018

As is true in much of American society, the benefits of our public education system are stratified strongly along racial and socioeconomic lines. Closing the gap is both a moral and economic imperative. Research shows that extended learning time can make a real difference in our ability to do so. Indeed, extended time is an essential practice that is no longer optional if we are to make our education system more equitable.

This paper draws the connection between the achievement gap and extended time strategies. It provides information on successful models of extended time and important considerations that can help assure that local investments reap the intended benefits.

Find a summary of the full report here.

Brief: iReady in 7th Grade Math Classes: A Mixed Methods Case Study

June 2019

The landscape of programs and options that constitute “computer- aided instruction” or “computer-aided learning” has changed dramatically in recent years. However, independent research of edtech products, as well as an understanding of whether and how they are being used in classrooms, has not kept pace with development. This brief summarizes details from a larger mixed methods study that aimed to address these issues by examining the implementation and effectiveness of edtech products in 7th grade.

Specifically, this study focuses on one commonly used edtech product, i-Ready. It examines which students are best served by the technology, in what ways, and under what circumstances. The qualitative data in this study include data on nearly 150 7th grade students in six math classrooms located in two coastal northern Californian districts over the 2017–18 school year. The quantitative data drew from 1,759 7th grade students in the two districts.

Find the full report here.

High School and College Readiness During the Common Core Era

February 2018

The advent of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) advanced an agenda for a set of deeper and more rigorous set of standards. Perhaps the most significant change in instructional expectations in a generation, the CCSS emergence in public education was seismic in the impact on districts, schools and classrooms. However, these changes were not significant enough in supporting Californian students abilities in pursuing a college education.

This paper discusses how the California school system can better prepare its students for university. We outline in this white paper, the problems within the California public education system that have persisted beyond the implementation of the Common Core and give a set of policy recommendations intended to improve college readiness.

Strengthening Early Math: A High Leverage Strategy for Meeting the Common Core Challenge


The challenge of not only making sure our high school graduates are sufficiently competent in math, but that more excel in math to take advantage of the increasing STEM-related jobs, may be addressed by focusing on math early in a student’s career. In fact, math success in grade 3 is as good as, if not better, than reading in predicting future academic success. Strengthening math learning from PreK to grade 3 is a powerful strategy and investment for schools and districts.

This paper explains the importance of early math and highlights effective professional development resources. It demonstrates how to align ECE and K-12 instruction and lays out an action plan to move forward.