10 Free or Inexpensive Educational Apps That Could Help Underprivileged Students Close the Racial Achievement Gap

Sushi Monster

Sushi Monster

A 2010 report by The New York Times revealed that only 12 percent of Black boys in the eighth grade were proficient in math compared to more than 40 percent of their white counterparts. A Harvard researcher explained that there are often major “racial differences” in the foundation that Black students have when compared to white students, especially in the area of math. Sushi Monster can help change that by giving Black students exposure to math at an early stage and disguising it as nothing more than a fun game. The free app from Scholastic helps students practice addition and multiplication skills. The app earned an impressive four-star rating after more than 800 users weighed in on the app’s effectiveness. While many parents admitted that the app was challenging, which is essentially the point of the app, they also said they noticed an improvement in their child’s overall understanding of and interest in math.



Getting students interested in science is a major part of the battle to help them excel in the subject. For schools with more sufficient funding, science fairs, field trips and other school-funded activities help get students interested and engaged in science in a way that helps them understand the concepts they learn in the classroom. For underprivileged schools that can’t offer those same experiences, Science360 can be a huge plus. The National Science Foundation’s app makes the most out of fascinating photos, intriguing videos and other digital content to show students just how interesting science can be. With a news feed that updates students on scientific news, they are also able to see their course lessons reflected in real world discussions in the science community.

Revolutionary App Helps Educators Close Achievement Gap for Students At Under Privileged Schools

New app revolutionizes the classroom

A former teacher turned tech entreprenuer has found a way to help close the achievement gap for students of severely under-resourced schools by giving educators the power to track their students’ progress with nothing more than a smart phone.

In an interview with Blerds, former teacher and Quick Key creator Walter Duncan said that closing the achievement gap is his passion and this new app has certainly allowed him to do just that.

He explained that schools with more sufficient funding can incorporate technology in the curriculum and grading process in a way that under resourced schools can’t.

This, in turn, widens the achievement gap between well-funded and low-funded schools.

Quick Key is working to significantly reduce that gap.

“Quick Key turns a mobile device into a scanner that allows teachers to grade assessments in paper based classrooms with or without an Internet connection,” the self-proclaimed “teacherpreneuer” told Atlanta BlackStar. “It then gives teachers the student performance data right away. This tool allows a dedicated teacher to improve student performance, irrespective of their schools infrastructure and budget.”

After spending 15 years in the classroom, Duncan realized there was a serious need for teachers to have a tool like this in their hands.

Tracking students’ daily progress and understanding of intense lesson plans is a task that would be nearly impossible to do by hand.

On average, teachers already spend more than 10 hours every week grading papers and assignments, according to estimates.

Ducan’s revolutionary app, Quick Key, will give teachers back those precious hours and allow them to focus on “developing and executing creative and engaging lessons.”

The impact of such an app is even greater than just saving time.

In the long run, allowing teachers to track student progress, have more time to develop lesson plans and prevent any one student from falling too far behind has the potential to boost graduation rates on a global scale and save the futures of students who potentially could have slipped through the educational system’s cracks.

More traditional means of tracking student progress often allows many students to fly under the radar, which means it could be too late by the time their parents or teachers notice they have fallen behind.

The technology behind Quick Key also has the ability to revolutionize the way people track progress even outside the classroom.

“In terms of companies, I would say AT&T, Coca-Cola, Target, Best Buy and Starbucks could benefit from using Quick Key for customer feedback and corporate training feedback,” Duncan said.

The same way the app would help teachers identify areas where students are struggling, the app could allow higher ups at any given company to identify areas where their corporate training programs could use improvements.

“Corporate training is critical to successful companies,” Duncan said. “But tracking participant mastery of concepts can be time consumer and challenging. Quick Key allows companies to track mastery of corporate training in real time.”

Duncan also explained that the app is a tool that should be used to help improve relationships between teachers and students.

In fact, it was his own positive relationship with a former student from Los Angeles that helped bring Quick Key to the market.

“Over the course of my career, I built many healthy relationships with students,” Duncan explained. “These relationships persisted during the time after I had been their teacher. One such student, from Los Angeles, helped to change my life.”

Duncan explained that he had just created a “grainy” video with his iPhone that revealed the app’s prototype and overall vision for the app.

“I asked Jacob, my former student, to help me improve the video, and he agreed,” Duncan said. “I gave him my YouTube password (reluctantly) and went to bed.”

The next morning he “woke up to a different world than the one [he] went to bed in.”

Jacob had posted the video to Reddit along with a heart-warming message.

“The best teacher I ever had created this cool new app, let’s show him we appreciate his hard work,” Jacob wrote.

It wasn’t long before the video went viral and garnered the media attention of major outlets including Techcrunch.

So many teachers started signing up for the app that the servers crashed.

Today, more than 400,000 assessments in more than 40 different countries have been graded using the Quick Key mobile app.

The app is free to download from iTunes and truly harnesses the power to level the playing field for students at under-resourced schools.