March 9, 2016
Orange School Superintendent Barbara Jenkins Speaking at SXSW

Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins will speak on a panel today about SAT preparation at the SXSWedu conference in Austin, Texas.

Jenkins said the session will start with a video about Oak Ridge High’s use of Khan Academy, a non-profit organization that provides free online materials to help students prepare for the SAT college entrance exam.

She’ll speak on a panel with David Coleman, president and CEO of the College Board, which administers the SAT; Sal Khan, the founder and executive director of the Khan Academy; and Damon A. Williams, a senior vice president of Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Last year, the College Board and Khan Academy released a set of materials to help students prepare for the newly revamped SAT, which eliminates obscure vocabulary words and the penalties for incorrect answers.

In the video featuring Oak Ridge students and staff, Principal Leigh Ann Bradshaw said the school’s language arts classes spend 30 minutes per week using Khan Academy. A handful of students who spoke during the video said using the Khan materials had helped them build their skills and confidence.

The school has seen improvement in students’ test scores, Jenkins said during a board meeting Tuesday night.

“I think it’s an indication of what our young people are capable of if they put their mind to it, if they work hard,” she said.

SXSWedu is part of the annual South by Southwest series of conferences and festivals focused on areas like music, technology and film. Tens of thousands of people attended the 10-day event last year. About 6,300 people attended the education portion of the 2015 event.

Jenkins said she’ll be back in Orange on Thursday, in time for a school board work session about school rezoning plans.