College Board Partners with CZI to Expand Access to Underserved Students

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative supports efforts to increase chances of college success

SAT From left to right: Sal Khan of Khan Academy, Tatiana Thelusma, Valencia Grayson, David Coleman of the College Board, and Matthew Blue

I was thrilled the other day to hear this great news: The College Board is partnering with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to increase access to personalized resources that will help underserved students in low-income and rural communities improve their SAT scores.

Although studies have questioned exactly what SAT scores predict, and concluded that high school GPA has greater predictive validity, I believe that studying for the SAT has inherent academic value. Indeed, students I interviewed last year who studied for the SAT using Khan Academy said their SAT study helped them improve in their classwork.

“When we look at students in America, we see incredible talent, but there are too many barriers in the way,” said College Board President & CEO David Coleman, in a statement. “The College Board and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative are united in our belief that if we clear a path for all students, they won’t just walk down it, they’ll run.”

Personalized Pathways

The SAT isn’t at the heart of the two-year partnership, however—it’s a PSAT-related assessment, which 4.3 million students take every year, according to the College Board. The assessment results yield a personal road map that tells students specifically what they need to do to score higher. It’s a snapshot of where students are but tells them how to get where they want to be. The College Board and CZI will expand access to these assessments.

Another key feature of the partnership is introducing more students to the free Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy, an online resource that, as mentioned above, I wrote about last year. Using Khan Academy, one student increased her scores by an astounding 470 points! If only Khan Academy had been around when I was in high school.

Important Partnerships

I love how the College Board is seemingly grabbing everyone it can to join its team to expand access to underserved kids. Other crucial partnerships include the College Advising Corps—made up of recent college grads, many of whom are first-gen; the Council of the Great City Schools, the National Rural Education Association, Character Lab, and Stanford University.

“The work being done by the College Board to help students tailor their SAT practice and prepare for college is a promising approach to scaling personalized learning,” said President of Education at CZI Jim Shelton, in a statement.

“The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is proud to support the College Board in its effort to reach more students across the country and fundamentally improve the access, experience, and preparation they make available to each student,” said Shelton, who has spoken at Black Enterprise events in the past, and who is also a former Deputy Secretary of Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

Advanced Computer Science

Another exciting development is the partnership’s intent to bring AP Computer Science Principles to every school district in the country. The widely praised course goes beyond coding to introduce students to foundational computer science concepts.

But what will probably be the most consequential component of the College Board CZI partnership is its emphasis on research.

“To better understand and clear invisible barriers that can hold students back, the College Board and CZI are convening the best minds and world-class researchers in the field of academic motivation, including Angela Duckworth and Greg Walton. The research around academic motivation is aimed at better understanding the role that qualities and beliefs, such as dedication, persistence, or sense of belonging play in advancing students toward college and career,” a College Board spokesman told me in an e-mail.

This research is most consequential, I believe, because taking the PSAT-related assessment and having the personalized recommendations won’t make a difference if students don’t actually use that information.

For more, see the video below.