Academic Programs


At Khan Lab School Learning is Mastery-Based

Students are expected to demonstrate an understanding of all competencies and skills identified in a course before moving on, thereby avoiding any potential “gaps” in their education. While the time it takes a student to finish a course may vary, the depth of mastery remains constant. Khan Lab School creates space within the academic day for students to explore their passions. In this space, they further develop their skills and apply their learning within contexts that are meaningful to them—and frequently develop expertise at a far younger age than many would expect. Wellness, caring, and creative expression are also central to community life.

Students should always have the opportunity and incentive to fill in any gaps in learning and prove mastery.

This is in contrast to traditional models where a student may receive an 80% on a test (showing a 20% gap on what happened to be on the exam) and then be forced to move to the next topic that builds on those gaps. This results in a majority of American students entering college needing to remediate at the middle school level. Through mastery learning, we believe that all students can learn more, and often at a faster pace.

LOWER SCHOOL Grades K-6: Learning how to learn
Empowering students to understand themselves and navigate their own path is fundamental to a Khan Lab School education.

Starting in kindergarten, their experience at Khan Lab School sets the pace, tone and expectations for learning. From the start, our students are guided by teachers and immersed in an atmosphere that fosters independent learning. It is in the K-6 years that the foundational elements of a Khan Lab School education are supported and acquired.

Our philosophy and methodologies lead students to see their educational and developmental journey as an exciting adventure that includes a willingness to stumble, fail, and try again. As they acquire knowledge and embrace growth, they begin to find their own voice and learn to work with their peers, often across grade levels.

Preparing for middle school, our sixth graders become more self-directed in their learning: They also become leaders of younger students as they continue sharing the knowledge they have acquired while developing their confidence, competence, and sense of self.

MIDDLE SCHOOL Grades 7-8: Learning how to share and apply knowledge
The middle school years are pivotal to students’ development both as independent learners and members of their advisory group.

There is a strong focus on fostering and strengthening executive function skills that enable students to make reasoned choices, recognize and regulate their emotions, and plan and organize their time. 

They continue to identify, explore, and express their individual voices, learning how to articulate thoughts more clearly and effectively. There is a transition as students take more initiative toward setting goals, making and executing plans, assessing what they have accomplished, and evaluating what remains to be done. Self-reflection is encouraged to help students acquire greater awareness of themselves as individuals and in a social context. 

While individual growth and initiative are important, students work collaboratively with each other in various settings, sometimes as the leader of a team and sometimes as a contributing member. This collaboration supports peer-to-peer interaction, builds trust, and fosters respect for others in our school community. The setting allows for blended age activities among the 7th and 8th graders and with upper school students. Academically, students who are ready can also participate in classes with their high school peers.

HIGH SCHOOL Grades 9-12: Applying knowledge for good
During high school, students continue their educational and developmental journey, honing academic skills, strengthening and expanding social and emotional learning, and deepening passions and interests.

As independent learners, students are deepening their self-awareness and refining their individuality; together with their peers, they are finding effective, non-competitive ways to share knowledge, solicit and apply constructive input toward continued improvement, fuel curiosity, develop solutions to problems, expand their world-view, and actively seek out personal and academic growth. 

The high school years offer opportunities for students to expand their knowledge base by pursuing deep, sustained study in areas that are of particular interest to them. Students also learn to identify and pursue opportunities to apply their knowledge, whether as peer-to-peer mentors giving and receiving information; as independent researchers seeking solutions to problems; or as volunteers, interns, or employees in organizations and businesses.