Power of Public: Providing resources that give every child a level playing field

Valencia Grayson put in practice time off the field with Khan Academy’s free SAT prep courses — and gained the point increase she needed to pursue her dream of playing sports at a Division I university.

Editor’s Note: February 27 through March 3 is Texas Public Schools Week, and we are celebrating by sharing personal stories throughout HISD on how public education is helping students succeed. Tweet at us @HoustonISD and share how public education is positive force for you or your student, using the hashtag #PowerofPublic.

Valencia Grayson loves sports, and she was fairly certain that her SAT scores were not good enough to get her into a university where she could compete at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics.

“I knew I had to get my math scores up, and I didn’t know what to do,” she said. “Then somebody at school showed me Khan Academy.”

The College Board and Khan Academy created free courses to help students raise their SAT scores and prepare for college classes. Valencia started logging in everyday, whenever she could find a pocket of time.

“It’s great because you can do it anywhere — on your phone, on your computer — whenever you have time,” she said. “I would do it on my phone on the way to basketball and when I got home, depending on how tired I was from my game.”

The senior at Booker T. Washington High participates in basketball, volleyball, cross country, track, golf, and softball.  “The hardest part was managing my schedule, because I play six different sports,” Valencia said.

The free software paid off — she raised her SAT score an impressive 470 points.

Last fall, Valencia was named a Khan Ambassador, and the College Board flew her to the Council of the Great City Schools conference in Miami, where she met Khan founder Salmari Khan and College Board President David Coleman. HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza also attended the conference, where HISD was recognized for encouraging students to use the practice courses.

Valencia has applied to Texas Southern University, and she is looking at top schools in nearby states, including Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

“I want to play sports at a Division I university, and Khan gave me the winning edge,” she said.

Read more stories that feature the power of public education in HISD