Go to school all day, all year? Khan Academy founder makes the argument for it

The nonprofit Khan Academy has provided online educational tools to students for more than a decade now, and many teachers and parents know it's invaluable to help enhance education.

Founder Sal Khan spoke with FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo on "Wall Street Week" about how else the American educational system can improve, and one of the main ways is to extend the amount of time students attend class.

One of the very clear non-technology changes we could do is have closer to full-day schooling and closer to full-year schooling. 

- Khan Academy Founder Sal Khan

Khan asserts the main difference between Chinese test scores and United States test scores is the amount of school days the students go to school.

"Summer vacation ... came out of the 19th century when a lot of kids had to work on a farm," Khan said. "We’re now a much more urban society where that isn’t true. And there’s famously the summer learning loss, where not only are kids not learning over that three months, but they’re forgetting over that three months."

Girl studying during the summertime

America's international educational ranking is right in the middle, but Khan thinks there's a good explanation for that.

"There’s really two sides to that [ranking,]" Khan said. "One is, it’s not acceptable. We want our country to be at the very top. The other thing, I do make one qualifier, which is, when you look at those rankings, some of the countries are like the United States or Brazil, and some of the countries or like – they’re not countries or they’re city-states. It’s Shanghai ... so I think, to be fair, you have to compare against large, diverse countries like the United States."

Khan admits there are pockets of the American educational system that is working, but others that are failing the students.

"The statistic I always give is that 70 percent of American kids who have to go to community college, they have to take remedial math -- which is sixth or seventh grade math -- which shows that for large chunks of our students, especially the ones that are most marginalized, they’re spending many years in the system not getting a lot out of it," Khan said.

Khan insists students need to be allowed to work at their own pace. One way to encourage that, Khan said, is for parents to help tutor their kids during the summer break.

Sit down with your children.

- Khan Academy Founder Sal Khan

"I would say motivate them to do even 20 minutes a day," Khan said. "If they were to go on the Khan Academy, once again, it’s free, non-commercial. I’m not selling anything. We’re seeing some pretty profound efficacy gains."

Khan thinks 20 minutes a day a few times a week will help any student, no matter their level.

Another secret that I think a lot of parents of top-performing kids do is try to learn the material for the next year before you get there.

- Khan Academy Founder Sal Khan

"So over the summer ... if you’re kid’s entering into eighth grade, go to Khan Academy and get them started on that eighth-grade material before they show up at school," Khan said.


Khan said the most important thing for students to try to do is to not just learn how to get the grade but to truly learn the material.