Why Wes Carroll thinks Sal Khan and David Coleman will fail

As I mentioned on the Bodsat blog recently, David Coleman of the College Board talks a good game, and he might even have his heart in the right place.  And Sal Khan, who went through MIT a few years after I did, has certainly done no shortage of good in the world.

So when these fellows say they are going to make costly SAT prep a thing of the past, one gets excited about the possibilities.

Trouble is, they genuinely don’t have the first or faintest clue what they’re doing, at least where serious learners are concerned.

Their goal is a good one: they hope to level the playing field economically by giving away world-class test prep.  Two problems here:

1. They wouldn’t know world-class test prep if it bit them on the elbow.  (That’s not their fault; the whole point of Khan Academy and of College Board is to “teach to the middle.” Unlike these guys, we at Bodsat Prep spend all day, every day, with students in the 1800 to 2350 range.)

2. They think that expensive test prep is out there telling people to “guess C if they don’t know the answer,” and that giving students good material will lead inexorably to good practice.  Both are false.  What we understand is that the biggest barrier to high-quality practice is not knowing what high-quality practice feels like in the first place.

I’m not one for throwing down gauntlets in general, but I’ll make an exception here:

Mr. Coleman and Mr. Khan, Bodsat Prep’s course is going to deliver easily triple the results of yours.  And that’s because we know how to give high-scorers what they need in order to become truly effective thinkers.

Families will decide for themselves whether that’s worth our price.

You, by contrast, merely know that you can do better for the average student than bad test prep can.  You’re right about that much, but we’ll see how far that gets you.