Khan Academy’s Sal Khan & ASU Prep Digital’s Amy McGrath on the Khan World School @ ASU Prep

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ASU Prep Digital partnered with Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, to open a unique global online high school. Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson of “The Learning Curve,” recently interviewed Sal Khan, founder and CEO of Khan Academy, and Amy McGrath, the Chief Operating Officer of ASU Prep and Deputy Vice President of Educational Outreach and Student Services at Arizona State University. Learn more about this innovative partnership and the vision for this unique global learning model.

About Sal Khan
Sal Khan is the founder of Khan Academy, a nonprofit organization with the mission of providing a free, world-class education for anyone anywhere. Khan Academy’s content and mastery learning platform has more than 137 million registered users across 190 countries and has been localized into more than 51 languages. The organization partners with school districts across the country that serve students who are historically under-resourced. Sal holds three degrees from MIT and an MBA from Harvard. He has been profiled by 60 Minutes and was recognized as one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

About Amy McGrath
Amy McGrath is the Deputy Vice President of Educational Outreach and Student Services for Arizona State University and Chief Operating Officer of ASU Prep and ASU Prep Digital, ASU’s K12 network of schools. With more than15 years of experience exploring innovation and personalized learning in the field, she has a rich background which ranges from school design to marketing strategy and educational policy. A nationally recognized educational technologist, Amy prioritizes learner-centered models, and works to increase access to high-quality learning for every student, regardless of ZIP code.

Here are some segments from the podcast:


SAL: “I started tutoring my 12-year-old cousin in 2004 and soon found myself tutoring 10-15 cousins. I saw many of them struggling because they had unfinished learning, gaps in their understanding. It wasn’t that they weren’t hard working. I called it Khan Academy because it was a family project. In 2005 I wrote some software and in 2006 a friend suggested I make YouTube videos to supplement the software. I gave it a shot. People who weren’t my cousin started writing to me saying it was transforming their lives.”

AMY: “At ASU Prep we believe all kids can learn and we’re laser focused on mastery models. We’re commissioned to create whatever models are needed for students across the proficiency scale. There needs to be well thought-out transformational models available. This model [Khan World School] is really geared for kids who are ready to sprint and may be bored with a traditional model. When Sal approached us there were just fireworks that went off as it was a perfect fit.”

SAL: “In 2010, Khan Academy gained notoriety, but I thought it could be more of a catalyst for education. The pandemic hit and a lot of school systems had to migrate to online learning overnight. It showed the need for taking ideas of Khan Academy and Khan Lab School and show the world there’s a way to do this. I was put in touch with Amy, and they took vision and ideas and merged thought leadership.”

Best practices

AMY: “Flexibility needs to be in the rear of newly designed models, for employees, students, families. We’re thinking of new models and outcomes of what the world needs now. So many people experienced COVID in such different ways, home, work, some were blocked from learning because they didn’t have the tools available. Our design principle is believing that every student can learn, but they all do it in different ways. If it takes you three months for algebra one, amazing. If it takes you 18 months, you have to keep going to build mastery.”

Addressing the gap

SAL: “Our system right now is very seat-time based. We put students together by age, move them through curricula at a fixed pace. Test them. Some students get a 68% but you keep moving forward. And at some point, students hit a wall. With Khan World School, students can fill in the gaps and learn and practice on their own with the video bank (Oxford-style tutorial sessions). That’s where the actual learning happens. An efficacy study showed that even at just 30 minutes a week, they’re growing 50% faster than their peers.”  

Unique format  

AMY: “We don’t have teachers, we have guides. From a design standpoint it has caused us to rethink the silos of learning. If society wants GPAs, this is an audacious model. But our goal is learning—learning to the point of our students explode in mastery. It changes everything. Scrap grades. You either get mastery or get an ‘in process.’ The light of mastery is our direction. Even through university level credit.”

About partnership

AMY: “It feels like a match made in heaven. We’re two very well-known organizations coming together, trying something out with the emphasis on students. The focus is away from us and onto the kids and that keeps us doing what we’re really good at bringing to the table, so it’s going to continue to play out with a lot of stories to be told and scale to happen.”

SAL: “Not to jinx it, but it is almost too good to be true. We continue to be very aligned. We push each other for what we care about. We look at how the pilot is performing and how students are prioritized in this process.”

Listen to full podcast

Louisiana Partnership Expands Educational Opportunities for Students 6–12

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Communities have been hit hard these past few years. Cost of living increases. Decreased supply of goods and services. Affordable housing. Struggling businesses. Personnel shortages. Schools, teachers and ultimately students have felt the heavy burden placed on education. Smaller rural communities have been especially hit hard.

Callout: How is a school district to manage the delicate balance of providing quality instruction and advance learning, all while navigating the social-emotional needs of students?

East Baton Rouge Parish sought a creative solution to meet the needs of its 40,283 diverse learners and 2,200 teachers—they leveraged resources available to them outside of their community. 

Finding solutions

Dr. Sito Narcisse, superintendent for East Baton Rouge Parish, faced the challenge that plagues many schools in the U.S., a nationwide teacher shortage. With many families seeking remote education options, Louisiana’s East Baton Rouge Virtual Academy (EBRVA) had quickly grown to 1,400 students; nearly half that number in grades 6-12. To help support these students, he knew he needed an innovative solution.

Narcisse was familiar with ASU Prep Digital, an accredited online K–12 school that is part of Arizona State University, the college ranked #1 in innovation for the last eight years by U.S. News & World Report. To help keep students learning and on pace to graduate, he asked for assistance and formed a multi-year partnership with ASU Prep Digital for EBRVA’s 6-12 program last spring. 

Customized model    

In this partnership, ASU Prep is the instructional provider for the school, providing curriculum and quality teachers certified in the subject areas they teach. The ASU educators are completing requirements to also become teacher certified in Louisiana. EBRVA is the students’ school of record and classes operate on East Baton Rouge Parish’s school schedule.

Discover other ways to partner with ASU Prep Digital. 

“We appreciate the opportunity to work with this community and this partnership helps us serve others and expand and create new learning models,” said Dr.  Christy Cleugh, Director of National Partnerships for ASU Prep Digital. “Their goal is our goal—to provide outstanding educational opportunities for students and provide excellent teachers well versed in the digital atmosphere.”

For all collaborative partnerships, like the one with East Baton Rouge, ASU Prep meets with the school and district’s leadership to first understand the needs of their community of learners. Then, they customize the support and make adjustments if needed along the way.  

Student-center focus and personalization

Dr. Christy Cleugh, Director of National Partnerships at ASU Prep Digital “We strive to get to know each student as an individual and treat each classroom as a classroom of one,” Dr. Cleugh said. “We see a great deal of engagement and have lots of positive feedback. We hear, ‘thank you, we know you care about us’ from parents and students a lot. It feels like we’re building nice solid relationships with the families.”

Dr. Christy Cleugh, Director of National Partnerships at ASU Prep Digital

Providing student-centered focus to ensure all students have the opportunity for success no matter where they live is a core credo at ASU Prep.

Rachel Maleski, Rachel Maleski, Digital Partnership Principal for ASU Prep Global, said, “We know the importance of keeping students at the center of every decision we make—it’s what will lead to the best outcome for students. The core of our mission as an organization is to constantly iterate new models for educational success and increase academic achievement for all learners.”

Rachel Maleski, Digital Partnership Principal for ASU Prep Global

Working together achieves more

Prior to the pandemic, Maleski said she felt educators and schools often worked in silos and competition. But she said she feels a shift now and there is more partnering and emphasis on the importance of collaboration.

“Collaborating really strengthens possibilities. When you partner with us, you are not alone,” she said. “We work together to ensure all students have equitable access to quality instruction. We think about who we are including and how we can make it work for them. It’s a two-way collaborative endeavor. Our partners learn from us, and we’re learning from them and with them.”

ASU Prep is proud of the continued progress students are making at EBRVA, and celebrates East Baton Rouge Parish for leveraging resources and relationships to build bright futures.   

EBREast Baton Rouge Virtual Academy
East Baton Rouge Virtual Academy (EBRVA) is a free, online EBR School System public school for students in grades PreK through 12. Enrollment is open to all families within the East Baton Rouge School district. Learn more at

Partner with ASU Prep Digital
ASU Prep Digital is an accredited online K–12 school providing districts with professional development options customized for their needs, including virtual teacher mentoring. For information on ways ASU Prep Digital can help with teacher shortages and other needs, visit our Teacher Mentoring webpage or email

ASU Preparatory Academy South Phoenix Art Inspires Students

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ASU Preparatory Academy South Phoenix students returned from fall break to find some unexpected inspiration on campus—new artistic murals of diverse and notable figures. The murals include Maya Angelou, Dolores Huerta, Frida Kahlo, Nelson Mandela, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Principal Patrick Gibbs said they installed the beautiful art celebrating different cultures because, “we really wanted to build something positive, uplifting, and something the students can relate to.”

The 220 students at the South Phoenix high school campus come from various backgrounds as well. The murals and messages provide a way to express the beauty and uniqueness of their culture.  

Mahkaylah Hopkins, student body president, said: “I honestly think that the murals are going to do a great job with promoting diversity and letting people know it’s okay to be different, no matter who you are, your background, or where you come from.”

Watch Fox 10 News Report LINK

See What Our Parents Are Saying – Prioritizing Student’s Needs

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Watching your child thrive is one of the greatest joys a parent can have, and when you see their learning needs are met with genuine concern, it’s incredible. This parent wrote to share why they selected ASU Prep Digital for their son.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share why ASU Prep Digital is such an obvious choice for our son and our family. We moved to Arizona from Park City, Utah, in the middle of COVID, when students were either on lockdown or home doing online schooling. Jackson is the youngest of four boys and we carefully weighed his options and where he should begin his high school years. After watching him succeed online during the pandemic, we began our search for an online option that would match his learning capabilities. We knew we wanted something with online teachings from the teachers and some degree of interaction and participation from the students. We have thankfully found both.

Our son has never been attracted to the “traditional sports” and found his passions outside of school—wake surfing, biking, skateboarding, and boxing, all of which he can now pursue freely without the confines of a traditional brick-and-mortar school setting. We have been extremely pleased with the support and communication from teachers/staff as well. They seem to have a genuine concern and a keen insight on what the students need. This is often a missing link, but I have found that ASU Prep Digital puts a high priority on this and truly has his success at heart. He has not yet tapped into the option of taking collegiate courses, but we think it’s a great option for his last few years of high school. Thanks ASU Prep Digital!”

Each student is unique in his/her abilities and we love hearing when we are able to not only meet their needs but help them flourish. Thank you for taking the time to write and let us know how ASU Prep Digital is there for you and your son. We’re honored to be part of his educational journey. 

It means a lot when a parent shares how ASU Prep Digital is helping their student succeed. We’d love to hear from you. Share your story with us at

ASU Prep South Phoenix Partners with Elevated Education to Reengage Youth

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Teen Victory Program Provides Structure for Arizona Youth Ages 13-21

PHOENIXSept. 30, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — ASU Preparatory Academy South Phoenix announces a partnership with Elevated Education, a leader in academic reengagement. The partnership will offer students and their families academic reengagement, and positive mentoring for youth through a project funded by the Arizona Governor’s Office.

“Covid exacerbated an already challenging academic climate for many students who were on the precipice of dropping out,” said James Meehan, CEO of Elevated Education. “Our innovative Teen Victory Program provides a positive alternative to teens and young adults seeking to reengage in their academics, offering opportunities for youth of diverse economic backgrounds to gain skills for academic success, relationship building with others, building a positive self-image, as well as connection to their local community, so we are thrilled to partner with ASU Prep in a joint effort to begin the process of academic reengagement and hope for a brighter future.”

The Program’s objectives include a wholistic approach to reengagement:

  • Analysis of participant’s education history
  • Academic mentoring/coaching
  • Develop individualized learning plan
  • School reengagement
  • Student Victory Team meetings (students, parents/guardians, school counselors, elevated mentor)
  • Ongoing mentoring throughout the school year

“Here at ASU Prep South Phoenix, our students have obstacles that we may not know about,” said Dr. Taime Bengochea, ASU Prep South Phoenix K-12 Principal. “It is so exciting to be partnered with Elevated Education and their Teen Victory Program so that our students can get extra support to re-engage with our school. With our partnership, Elevated can support those families who may not want to share information about their circumstances back into our school community. I look forward to the success we can achieve together for our families and students.”

For more information on how your school, school district or student can take advantage of this one-of-a-kind program, please fill out the online form, call 602-641-4495 or e-mail

About Elevated Education

Elevated Education‘s mission is to cultivate a rigorous and innovative environment that focuses on each teen’s unique abilities and needs to foster profound transformative growth and learning through alternative education and programs. The Elevated Education team has reengaged and educated thousands of teen students over the years.

About ASU Preparatory Academy

ASU Preparatory Academy is a tuition-free college preparatory school that serves students in grades K-12. We are chartered by Arizona State University with the goal of helping each student Prep for college. Prep for careers. Prep for life.

SOURCE Elevated Education

Project-Based Learning Fuels Engagement

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Now more than ever, students need to be truly engaged in their learning. 

Question: How do you empower students to actively explore real-world challenges and acquire transferable knowledge? 

Answer: Introduce Project-based Learning. 

What is Project-Based Learning?

Project-based learning (PBL) is a method of teaching in which students work for a period of time on a real-world question, problem, or challenge. It’s driven by their inquiry. The long-term project involves collaboration, feedback, reflection, and revision throughout the project duration. The student’s self-driven exploration and knowledge is then to be shared with an audience.

PBL provides students with dynamic learning experiences and easily integrates technology and online learning. That’s why the Arizona Virtual Teacher Institute created a three-part professional development series on PBL. In this series, participants examine the fundamentals of PBL beginning with understanding the “what” and “why” of this learning method. In the second session, “PBL in Action,” learners will explore different PBL projects that have been completed to understand how it can be applied to the classroom. The final session, “Facilitating PBL,” focuses on the role teachers play during the project.

With an emphasis on using technology in meaningful ways to enhance student learning, tools and resources are showcased to help make it manageable for teachers and more effective for students. 

Benefits of PBL

Annabelle Davey, M.Ed., ASU Prep Digital Teacher Trainer, said, “PBL is taking what students are interested in and allowing them to dive in and follow the inquiry to wherever it takes them. The key is to pique their interests. By running an organized PBL cycle or project path, students are empowered and engaged in self-directed learning.”  

The PBL series was part of ASU Prep Digital’s summer boot camp and was a popular session AZVTI is pleased to offer this fall.  

“We are always looking to engage students and make them feel that they are driving their learning,” said Davey.

Flexibility is key

 While PBL fuels critical thinking and collaboration among students, it also allows teachers to restructure and reorganize to make the best use of their time. Project length can vary from one week to quarter-long projects and anywhere in between. Teachers have the flexibility to make it work for their classroom.

“It’s about sustaining inquiry throughout a project, really allowing for student voice and choice. For a lot of teachers, that can be scary,” said Davey. “Whatever the end product is, whether a presentation or proposal, they built something or made a product, at the end, they have an opportunity to present and showcase their work to an audience. Be flexible and open. It’s authentic learning.”

 Davey shared that teachers who try to incorporate PBL into their classrooms tend to have good results and are interested in learning more.

Project-Based Learning in Action – Saturday, October 22 | 9-11 a.m. (MST)
Facilitating Project-Based Learning – Saturday, October 29 | 9-11 a.m. (MST)

Participants earn two hours of professional development credit for each collaborative learning session attended. 

If you’re interested in bringing Project-based Learning Training to your school or district, please visit  

ASU Prep Awarded Ed-Prize for Microschools Innovation

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ASU Prep Academy was one of four recipients recently awarded a 2022 Ed-Prize at the State Policy Network’s 30th Annual Meeting. This highly competitive grant program invests in innovative approaches to education that help children gain access to a quality education. ASU Prep will use the funding from Ed-Prize to expand their efforts nationwide to develop a toolkit for Microschools.