Competition to enter the job market or be admitted to colleges is increasing every year. More international students are gaining entry into top US universities. At the same time, top sectors of job growth in the STEM arena are constantly expanding and searching for qualified candidates. However, American students are losing out on those jobs at startling rates.
To help students compete and reach the necessary benchmarks, states have been reforming and renewing graduation protocols for the past few years. In Florida, students are required to take the Postsecondary Education Readiness Test or PERT. The test is designed to determine readiness for Intermediate Algebra and Freshman Composition I. This system was launched in 2010 with the intention of helping better prepare Florida students for the world beyond high school.
Overcoming the Curve
While all students must complete the PERT to graduate, graduating is not a magical key to success in today’s world. Students need to go above and beyond basic qualification with AP courses and college entrance exams. Many teachers follow the PERT student study guide leading up to the test. Putting in a little extra work, however, can pay off for test takers.
An oft-overlooked reason for scholastic underachieving is being ill-prepared. Many children are never taught how to study properly. They procrastinate, try to cram useless information, and fail to plan ahead. Focus on teaching your children how to organize their work schedules and use alternative study methods from a young age.
As published in National Geographic, memory is more easily accessed by using visual and tactile experience. Listening attentively in class is often not enough to retain information.
This reinforces the importance of multisensory learning and shows that the tactile can be very important,” says John Black, Cleveland E. Dodge Professor in the Department of Human Development at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Getting your children involved in educational after-school programs or groups is another great way to help them get a leg up on the competition. There are many STEM camps and programs available for bright children in Florida. Getting young children involved in STEM is a great predictor of future success, according to the National Assessment of Education Progress. Thanks to these findings, many states have recently enacted STEM learning requirements for early childhood education.
Parents should take note and use this valuable information to give young students the headstart they need in STEM. Don’t leave it up to the school to introduce STEM topics or your child will continue to lag behind.
Test Prep Programs
Once you’ve given your child a solid foundation for academic achievement, you can enroll them in an online program which will develop their skills. Some programs can tailor material to align with state standards and prepare students for their assessments. This step enables students to work independently of their peers and often results in higher exam scores.
Another prime opportunity exists in PERT practice tests. Students who undergo practice exams for the PERT or other college entrance exams generally score higher on the final test. This is because they gain confidence in the test format and content through practice. Encourage your child to take the practice exam before they take the real test. This strategy can help them relax on exam day and reach their full potential.
In Florida, there are several factors which can determine your student’s college readiness and future success. The state administers the PERT, to assess student preparedness to enter universities after graduation. The SAT and ACT are also available for college-bound teens. However, the picture we get when we look at the performance of Florida students is that they are improving year to year.
With all the requirements needed to get into a good college and on the right track, sometimes it’s hard to focus on any one thing. Students need extracurriculars, sports, clubs, languages, volunteer work and more just to be competitive when they apply for college. And let’s not forget high grade-point averages, SAT and ACT scores, and AP courses. With everything your student needs to keep track of, it’s easy to forget one tiny detail.
The state of Ohio requires students to complete a number of tests to graduate. There are different rules, depending on performance and the tests chosen. However, entering the world without a high school diploma would be detrimental to your student’s future. As a parent, you should understand the graduation rules and requirements.
Ohio graduation requirements say students need to earn a minimum of 20 credits. Further, they are required to complete a minimum of two semesters of fine arts, and courses in financial literacy and economics. On top of coursework, students must choose one of the following pathways to earn their diploma.
Ohio’s Graduation Tests (OGT)
Students can take the seven-part end-of-course state tests, known as the OGT. They must earn 18 out of 35 possible points. Each test is worth up to five points, depending on performance. Students need a minimum of four points in math, four points in English language arts, and six points between science and social studies.
Students can choose to earn an industry-recognized credential or a group of credentials which equal 12 points and earn the required score on the WorkKeys test. Ohio pays for students to take the test one time. In some districts, the Senior Only program allows kids to earn credentials in one school year.
ACT or SAT
Each district dictates whether students may take theSAT or the ACT. The chosen test allows students to earn remediation-free scores, determined by Ohio’s university presidents, in math and English language arts. The one-time statewide spring test is administered in grade 11 free of charge.
|English Language Arts||English subscore of 18 (or higher)||Writing 430
|Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) 480 (or higher)|
|Entered high school prior to July 1, 2014, reading subscore of 21 (or higher)||Reading 450
|Entered high school after July 1, 2014, reading subscore of 22 (or higher)|
|Mathematics||Mathematics subscore of 22
Ohio students score higher than the national average, according to the 2017 ACT College and Career Readiness Report. Data from the Nation’s Report Card agrees, showing Ohio in line with median performance across the country. This means graduating students have a better than average chance at obtaining gainful employment or continuing on to higher education. However, that doesn’t mean your student can sit back and relax.
Since each graduation pathway requires different courses and tests, students should choose wisely. Helping your student make this decision, based on his or her graduation plans, is the best option. If your student plans to apply to four-year colleges, the SAT or ACT will be unavoidable. For those wanting to jump into the job market, a workforce certification may be the answer. Likewise, for those students who plan to attend community college, practicing for the OGT would be best.
Regardless of the path chosen, your student should begin preparation early to ensure timely graduation. Failure to complete the requirements could result in missed chances for your high school senior.
For those students completing the OGT, practice tests can be invaluable. Since your child will have to undergo seven different tests, scheduling practice sessions and organizing time is important for success. There are also test prep tools available online which can focus your student’s study efforts towards the test of their choice.
Even the College Board has recently begun touting the value of online test prep websites. In 2016, they released a statement which included the following quote:
“In addition to the 115-point average score increase associated with 20 hours of practice, shorter practice periods also correlate with meaningful score gains. For example, 6 to 8 hours of practice on Official SAT Practice is associated with an average 90-point increase.”
From this statement, we can see that even the makers of the SAT agree that test prep can make a meaningful difference in your student’s score. This same principle can be applied to students taking the OGT, workforce readiness courses and the ACT. Using personalized tutoring apps and services in short sessions, rather than cramming before a test, can increase understanding and performance.
There is a lot to consider regarding graduation when you take everything into account for your Ohio student. However, each child is an individual, and the graduation pathways allow for customized choices, based on your student’s goals and interests. The best thing is to make the most of the choice your student makes by helping them focus, prepare, and have confidence for test days.
Teachers have real challenges ahead of them each year when it comes to helping students succeed in school. Earning a diploma and moving on to higher education are increasingly important each year. Without these markers for aptitude, graduates are hard pressed to find gainful employment.
Students who graduate ill-prepared for college are unlikely to pursue higher education and later find satisfactory employment. For that reason, the Arkansas Department of Education has recently implemented teacher training and changed the yearly benchmarks to improve student performance. The ADE has adopted a new annual standardized testing model tailored to specific programs within schools and designed to achieve higher competency scores across disciplines.
Adopting ACT Aspire
For students in Arkansas, academic understanding is now measured in benchmarks by administration of the ACT Aspire test. The ACT Aspire was approved in 2015 for students grades 3 through 10. The test measures comprehension in English, reading, math, science, and writing. Additionally, ninth and tenth graders receive a predicted score for the ACT.
Since the new regimen was adopted in 2015, we can expect teachers and students alike to undergo a learning curve. Arkansas’ teachers are invited to summer workshops on preparing students for the ACT Aspire tests. Hopefully, the coming years will show an upswing in student mastery of the areas addressed.
Steps to Help Your Students Succeed
If you’re reading all this as a parent, you may wonder how all these scores and tests can help your child. The answer is this: Knowledge is power. Knowing how the school system is preparing your child and what obstacles may impede them is paramount for overcoming possible hurdles.
You can help your student surpass state standards by using practice exams and taking advantage of test preparation tools online. Many tools can help your student learn the concepts needed for every stage of the ACT Aspire test and, later, the ACT.
Teach Good Study Habits
Many students suffer from poor study habits. Things like procrastination can hurt a student’s chances in school and in life. Help your student organize their homework schedule beginning at a young age. Use calendars and planners to ensure that study time is divided equitably between subjects.
Invest in Online Supplements
Find an online program which uses your the Arkansas standards to inform its program. These types of platforms use games, quizzes and video lessons to help your classes grasp core concepts. You can use an online study site to bridge gaps during breaks or to help your students stay ahead of the curve at school.
Play to Your Students’ Strengths
Every kid has individual interests and talents, and it’s important to encourage their evolution. Children learn more and retain better when they’re having fun. For that reason, make learning fun at school and at home. The future of the nation depends on our children. Recent changes to the state assessments are a good sign for the future of Arkansas. To improve your students’ college readiness, use all the tools at your disposal and make education a priority!
- New “Choose All” style Technology-Enhanced Performance Tasks, sometimes called “Multi-Select”
- New questions authored across our most widely-accessed standards
- New and newly-improved instructional videos
- New free response/essay style questions
- New printable worksheets added to our database
The story of each individual’s math education can be represented, in stages, by the sets of numbers which he or she has used as a universe of discourse. A universe of discourse is best thought of, in math terms, as the largest set of numbers being talked about — i.e., the set of numbers from which all solutions to problems and equations must be drawn.
In the beginning, we usually have only the counting numbers or the whole numbers, and if a number isn’t in one of those sets it doesn’t exist. That’s why, for example, a 1st-grader will solemnly assure us that, “5 doesn’t go into 19” and, “You can’t take 5 from 3!”
Once the rational numbers, including negative integers, have been revealed, many new problems become solvable. The process continues until the entire set of real numbers is on the table, including the somewhat mysterious irrationals. This is a “map” of the real numbers:
The next, and last, big step is the introduction of the imaginary numbers, when the square root of -1 is defined to be the imaginary unit, i. When the imaginaries are added to the reals, we have the set (or, more properly speaking, the field) of complex numbers. Any number of the form a + bi, where a and b are real numbers, is a complex number. If b happens to be 0, then a + bi is the real number, a. If b is not 0, then a + bi is an imaginary number.
The complete picture looks like this:
Sometimes there is confusion on this last point: Some contend that, for example, 2 + 3i is “complex,” while 3i is not. This is incorrect: 2 + 3i and 3i are imaginary numbers (try finding them on a number line!), but both are complex, because both can be written in the form a + bi.
Any of us around on that day in 2001 remember the emotion and uncertainty of those first few hours. Our students, though, have no such memories. All they know they will come from their parents, from us, from YouTube, or from elsewhere. So what to do? How to convey not just the heartbreak and bewilderment but – most importantly – the facts and the hindsight that time affords? Well, as professional teachers, you’ve found ways. You know what works, and what may need some tweaking. We’ve found a few good sites that may help infuse your plans with some new or different perspectives.
As stated on its website, this program is a collaboration between the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the NYC Department of Education, and the NJ Commission on Holocaust Education. Lesson plans are divided by grade level, containing material appropriate to the age of the learners. Teaching guides are included, as well.
MCTSR also has many plans grouped by grade level. Of particular note is “The Second Day,” a video created by a 14 year-old student who lived blocks from Ground Zero.
This National Public Radio article offers less pedagogical insight, but does include perspective about the years after the attack. There are some useful links embedded in the report – including one to the aforementioned 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
Created on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, these plans were created by a middle school language arts teacher in Ohio. She offers a number of strategies and mindsets to help with teaching the multiple perspectives of the terrorist attacks.
Offering the perspective of those indirectly and unjustly blamed for the attacks, this article provides information that could be used in the teaching of the subject. Though it offers no lesson plans, the first-hand accounts it contains could be fodder for deeper discussions about the reactions of people in the days- and years- after 9/11.
All of these can, in some way, provide teachers with new angles and additional information for teaching this very complex event. We hope this helps in even the smallest of ways.
Photo Credit to: https://www.flickr.com/people/themachinestops
About the Author
Kirby Spivey taught AP World History, US History, and numerous other Social Studies courses in Georgia. Mr. Spivey currently leads USATestprep’s Social Studies content team. He and his wife live in Atlanta. He was helping students with a project on Federalism in the school library when the first plane hit the North Tower.
With our national science scores remaining below those of many other countries, US states continue to look for ways to change the way we teach science. The newest set of science standards is the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and the number of states adopting the NGSS standards or a version of them, is growing. Let’s look at the history and the future of the NGSS.
What are the NGSS?
The NGSS are a set of standards that cover every grade level and every scientific discipline. According to their developers, these are standards that go beyond a specific discipline and attempt to integrate all disciplines to the real-world. The focus is on a 3-Dimensional Model, which includes Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), Scientific and Engineering Practices (SEPs), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs). The goal is for students to understand that science is more than just memorizing facts, and that science should be interwoven where it fits into the world.
How were the NGSS developed?
The idea of uniform science standards is not new. The National Research Council (NRC) was created over a century ago to focus on the use of scientific research in American industries.
Project 2061, created by Advancing Science, Serving Society (ASSS) in 1985, helped to define scientific literacy through its publication, Science for All Americans. In 1996, the NRC published National Science Education Standards, which were designed to enable the nation to achieve the goal of scientific literacy. In 2010, the NRC began the process of creating guidelines to change the way we teach science. A Framework for K-12 Science Education, released in 2011, provided the foundation to help develop standards that address what K-12 science students should know. This was the beginning of the NGSS. In the fall of 2011, 26 states with an 18-member panel of experts appointed by the NRCBlog Articles worked together to write the new standards. The final draft of the NGSS was released in April 2013, and Rhode Island was the first to adopt them in May 2013. This was separate from the development of the Common Core standards released in 2010, although the NGSS team worked with the Common Core writers to help with literacy connections.
The future of the NGSS?
As of February 2016, 17 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards, while over 40 states have shown interest in them. With pressure to improve science scores and science education in the United States, many states see the NGSS as a way to bring about that change. At this point, the future of the NGSS remains to be seen. The NGSS are meant to serve as a guideline, and the decision to follow all or parts of that guideline is ultimately up to each individual state, but there must also be buy-in from the local and classroom levels.
Why should my state look at adopting the NGSS?
Some of the advantages of the NGSS standards are:
- Previous national standards are out-of-date
- Emphasis on how to use science in the real world
- Helps prepare students for STEM-related careers
- Helps students to solve problems as opposed to only learning facts
- States can save money by not having to develop their own standards
- Links the different science disciplines together
What are some of the cons of the NGSS?
There are also potential drawbacks to adopting the new standards. Some questions are:
- Will adequate teacher training be available?
- Are the standards too specific, and do they remove some of the creativity from teachers and students?
- What is the cost to implement the new standards?
- Will elected officials, students, teachers, and parents buy into the idea of uniform standards across state lines?
The NGSS are backed by research, and they were developed by both scientists and educators. As with any new development in education, many states are waiting to see how other states fare with the new standards. Only time will tell if NGSS are the answer to improving science education in the United States.
The College Board’s Advanced Placement programs have long been a staple of American high schools. For some students, the prestige of having an AP class on one’s resume draws them to the demanding courses, while parents may entrain visions of massive tuition savings once college hits. But dollars and status aside, the courses require students — and teachers — to strive to keep up with the rigors of the curriculum.
That curriculum, though, has garnered much attention in recent years. Updates take place regularly, of course, but rarely do they solicit any sort of notice outside of the teachers who have to revamp their plans every decade or so. No doubt you remember this was not the case in 2014 when the AP US History test experienced an overhaul. Critics, both in academia and in the general public, blasted the new standards for downplaying American exceptionalism and for emphasizing concepts over facts. Bowing to the pressure, the College Board quickly released a re-revamped curriculum in August of 2015. Since then, national media has resumed its “radio silence” of nearly all things AP.
Teachers, of course, understand that changes (likely less controversial) are always afoot. The 2016-17 school year saw major changes to Calculus AB, Calculus BC, and World History courses. The Calculus changes, according to some, were more tweaks than fundamental changes. World History, however, saw a massive reorganization of both the curriculum and the exam. Unlike APUSH’s first revision, the APWH curriculum changes were not only less (or “non-“) controversial but rich with details and specifics. Its testing format also emphasizes both facts and historical thinking skills. The efficacy of these course changes will only be known once the exams are graded and tabulated in July.
So what’s on tap for the 2017-18 school year? According to the College Board’s “Advances in AP” website, nothing new — something that, from personal experience, is welcomed news to AP teachers around the globe. The next major overhaul looks to be U.S. Government in Politics in 2018-19, the first in a decade. These changes promise a “deeper conceptual understanding of political processes” rather than a memorization of facts and specific Court cases. Students will be expected to interpret data and draw conclusions from those sources. In general, the expectations mirror many of those in the revised US History and World History courses. And as with those previous courses, teachers of this AP course will be expected to submit a revised course syllabus for an audit review. But again: this will not go into effect until the 2018-19 school year.
For AP U.S. Government teachers: you may want to get to work. For everyone else: we can hear your sigh of relief from here.
About the Author
Kirby Spivey taught AP World History, US History, and many other Social Studies courses in Georgia. He and his wife live in Atlanta
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