Allison, Sharon, and Tom here—we’re Khan Academy’s English Language Arts (ELA) Content team!
This post gives you an overview of our ELA content as of July 2020, plus updates on some recent additions and changes we’ve made.
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You can access all the latest ELA content here: https://www.khanacademy.org/ela
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Give us feedback: We'd love to hear what you like about the content, and what could be improved and added — let us know via this short and sweet feedback form.
Need help or have a question? Tell us more via this support request form and our team will get on the case.
- We’ve continued to build out our topic-based reading & vocabulary courses—we now have 3 topic-based units per grade across grades 2-9.
- All units now have video instruction!
- For our reading & vocabulary courses, we’re now focusing 100% on topic-based units—so we’ve retired the older, beta “Learn by focus area” units. Teachers: if you have existing assignments for these retired beta exercises, those assignments should be unaffected. More detail on this change in the FAQs section, below.
More about the content
Each reading & vocabulary course is made up of several units, each with a mix of practice exercises, video instruction, and articles. All the practice exercises are based around passages with a unifying topic, and each exercise gives learners the opportunity to practice applying several different reading skills or strategies together with the same text.
The content is aligned to, and tagged with, US Common Core State Standards for Reading Informational Text (RI), Reading Literature (RL), and Vocabulary Acquisition and Use (Language Anchor Standards 4-6). The passages we use in our practice are also designed to fall within Common Core-aligned text complexity ranges for each grade level; you can find an estimated quantitative readability measure right under each prose passage in our practice exercises.
You’ll notice that each course is currently labeled as “beta.” In short, this is because none of the courses is yet finalized or complete—we’ll continue to add more practice and instruction to all of them over the 2020-21 school year and likely beyond.
Another reason we’ve kept the “beta” labeling for our reading & vocabulary courses is that none of them uses Khan mastery currently. One of the main reasons for this is that the courses are still under construction; as a rule, we wait until a course is complete and stable before enabling mastery. And because mastery isn’t enabled, not all of the features and teacher tools are available in the reading & vocabulary courses—i.e. those that depend on the presence of mastery to work, like the Class Skills report, for example.
Note for teachers: even without mastery, you can still assign reading & vocabulary content to your learners and keep track of their progress—we’ve included some links to relevant how-to guides in the FAQs section below.
What is ELA?
ELA stands for English Language Arts. In the US, this typically includes reading, writing, language (usage, vocabulary, grammar, spelling), and speaking and listening.
How can teachers assign content and monitor learners' progress?
Here's our guide to creating assignments, and here's the guide to our different assignment reports. In case you don't find what you're looking for there, send us a support request and we'll be glad to help out!
I’m a teacher outside the US—how do I assign the ELA content to my class?
Take a look at the walkthrough here :)
Will you be adding other areas of ELA as well as reading & vocabulary?
Reading and vocabulary are likely to be our main area of focus for the foreseeable future: they’re very popular with learners and teachers, and areas that our current platform can handle pretty well. We also have a standalone Khan Grammar course here: https://www.khanacademy.org/ela/grammar.
To offer authentic, long-form practice for either writing or speaking & listening, we’d need to invest heavily in both research and development, and in increasing what our platform is capable of. That would be a really exciting prospect to explore one day, but realistically we probably won't have resources to devote to it in the near term.
Will you be adding more high school ELA?
We’ll continue to add content to our 9th grade reading & vocabulary course; we hope to extend to 10th grade and beyond in the future but we don’t have a timeline for that yet. We also have a ton of great SAT content over at https://www.khanacademy.org/mission/sat.
Will you be adding foundational skills practice?
For younger learners (up to first grade), check out the free Khan Academy Kids app. Right now, our focus here at khanacademy.org is on reading comprehension for grades 2 and up. We know decoding and foundational skills are areas of huge need for many learners beyond first grade; we hope to explore this more in the future, although we don't know exactly when yet.
Will you be adding quizzes, unit tests, or assessments?
Yes, we likely will explore adding some sort of unit assessments or similar in the future, although we don’t have a firm timeline for this work yet.
When will you add ELA to the mobile app?
We’ll do this once the courses are closer to being finalized and complete, which will likely be a few years away. In the meantime, learners on phones and tablets can still access all the content via their phone or tablet’s browser.
I’ve noticed the texts you use are either ones I haven’t seen before, or older texts. Why is that?
There are a couple of reasons for this. First, our reading courses consist of topic-based units that help learners grow their content and vocabulary knowledge at the same time as building reading confidence, stamina, and strategies. In many cases, writing or commissioning new, original, engaging texts is a great way to facilitate learning in this context.
Second, while teachers in schools can use any text for teaching and practice, as a free, online resource Khan Academy has to follow different laws for using copyrighted material. Basically, that means we can’t use most texts published after 1920 or so. Fortunately, there was a lot of great literature published before 1920, so we’ve included lots of those texts too :)
Where can I find the old “Learn by focus area” units and exercises?
We’ve retired these older beta units, so they’re no longer included in our reading & vocabulary courses. For teachers with existing assignments of these retired beta exercises made before August 2020, those assignments should be unaffected. But if anything about your preexisting assignments looks amiss, please let us know via this support request form!
We retired these older beta exercises as part of our shift to concentrating 100% on topic-based, integrated reading practice. One reason for focusing on this approach is that it’s closer to an authentic, real-world reading experience than practicing reading by isolated strategies or standards. Another key reason is that it’s more closely aligned with the intentions of the US Common Core State Standards, particularly the importance of building content knowledge and vocabulary in the context of topic-based text sets.
What is beta?
"Beta" is a software/tech term that's most commonly used to describe a public trial phase of a new product feature. Here, we're using it to signify that we’re still adding content to the courses.
Some whimsical unrelated facts about beta: it’s the second letter of the Greek alphabet (but you already knew that); it’s also a term used in various ways across finance, meteorology, typography, and rock climbing; and the Beta Band were a 90s Scottish indie/folktronica band.