Archive for May, 2015

ACT Releases New Model Of Student workplace Readiness Stressing Cross Cutting Capabilities

May 13th, 2015

ACT’s New Model of College and Career Read

ACT on Wednesday released a paper that seeks to define workplace readiness. The nonprofit testing firm also called for a new model of college and career readiness that argues that the skills needed in those two areas, while overlapping, are distinct. And measurements of readiness must include both academic and nonacademic skills, the paper said.

According to the report, four categories of skills contribute to success after high school. They are core academic skills, cross-cutting capabilities such as critical thinking, behavioral skills and navigation skills.

 

Ace those Finals – Study Tips to Ensure Success

May 12th, 2015

By Jane Hurst

Obviously, you want to ace your finals, but studying for finals can be one of the most stressful experiences of your life. Not only do you have huge and difficult tests to take, they are standing in the way of your having a great time this summer. Before you can think about that, you need to focus on your studies, so you can ace those exams and not have anything to worry about until the fall. Here are some of the best tips we could find to help you do just that.

  • Get Energized, Naturally – Don’t slug back an energy drink or eat something sugary thinking that it is going to give you energy before your exam. Instead, exercise, read a book, do a puzzle, or do anything else that will stimulate you and give you energy and confidence in the 24 hours prior to the exam.
  • Know Your Study Habits – Everyone studies and learns differently. Get to know what works best for you, and use it to your advantage. For instance, if you are more relaxed and learn more when you have classical music playing, keep listening to it every time you study.
  • Take it Easy – Finally, don’t let yourself get too stressed about the exam. Relax, and tell yourself that you have been working hard all year, and that you know the material. Take some time to do some fun things, such as hang out with friends, or find fun things to look at online, such as these cool Top 10 Lists.
  • Prioritize – Some classes you may be acing, while others are more difficult for you and you need to do more work to get high marks. Make a list of the classes that you aren’t doing as well in, and those that don’t require as much study because you already have a good handle on the material, and focus on what you need the most.
  • Stuff Your Face – You need to take regular snack breaks while you are studying. This is going to give you the energy you need to keep going. You should also take regular exercise breaks. Get up and take a five-minute walk, and enjoy a snack while you are at it. This is going to clear your mind and give you more energy for studying.
  • Start Studying Early – It is never too soon to start studying for your exams. In fact, you should start at least a month ahead of time, especially if you need help in certain areas. The sooner you start, the more prepared you will be for all of your exams.
  • Know Your Goals – Figure out what your study goals are, and find a way to achieve those goals. When you have a plan, you will do better on the exams.
  • Know when to Stop – You can’t study forever, and you need to know when it is time to stop. When there are only 12 to 24 hours left before a test, it is time to stop studying. The more you do at this point, the more stressed out you are going to get, and you may end up doing poorly on the exam. If you do like to cram, take a few minutes before the test to quiz yourself.
  • You Need Your Sleep – Pulling all-nighters is only going to work for so long, and then you are going to end up too exhausted to do well on your exams. The night before your exam, make sure that you go to bed early, and try to get a full eight hours of sleep in order to have the energy you need to do well on the exam.

Byline:

Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading, a lot

The Big Problem With the New SAT

May 11th, 2015

By RICHARD C. ATKINSON and SAUL GEISER    first published in the New York Times  

AT first glance, the College Board’s revised SAT seems a radical departure from the test’s original focus on students’ general ability or aptitude. Set to debut a year from now, in the spring of 2016, the exam will require students to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of subjects they study in school.

The revised SAT takes some important, if partial, steps toward becoming a test of curriculum mastery. In place of the infamously tricky, puzzle-type items, the exam will be a more straightforward test of material that students encounter in the classroom. The essay, rather than rewarding sheer verbosity, will require students to provide evidence in support of their arguments and will be graded on both analysis and writing. Vocabulary will move away from the obscure language for which the SAT is noted, instead emphasizing words commonly used in college and the workplace.

While a clear improvement, the revised SAT remains problematic. It will still emphasize speed — quick recall and time management — over subject knowledge. Despite evidence that writing is the single most important skill for success in college, the essay will be optional. (Reading and math will still be required.)

And the biggest problem is this: While the content will be new, the underlying design will not change. The SAT will remain a “norm-referenced” exam, designed primarily to rank students rather than measure what they actually know. Such exams compare students to other test takers, rather than measure their performance against a fixed standard. They are designed to produce a “bell curve” distribution among examinees, with most scoring in the middle and with sharply descending numbers at the top and bottom. Test designers accomplish this, among other ways, by using plausible-sounding “distractors” to make multiple-choice items more difficult, requiring students to respond to a large number of items in a short space of time, and by dropping questions that too many students can answer correctly.

“Criterion-referenced” tests, on the other hand, measure how much students know about a given subject. Performance is not assessed in relation to how others perform but in relation to fixed academic standards. Assuming they have mastered the material, it is possible for a large proportion, even a majority, of examinees to score well; this is not possible on a norm-referenced test.

K-12 schools increasingly employ criterion-referenced tests for this reason. That approach reflects the movement during the past two decades in all of the states — those that have adopted their own standards, as well as those that have adopted the Common Core — to set explicit learning standards and assess achievement against them.

Norm-referenced tests like the SAT and the ACT have contributed enormously to the “educational arms race” — the ferocious competition for admission at top colleges and universities. They do so by exaggerating the importance of small differences in test scores that have only marginal relevance for later success in college. Because of the way such tests are designed, answering even a few more questions correctly can substantially raise students’ scores and thereby their rankings. This creates great pressure on students and their parents to avail themselves of expensive test-prep services in search of any edge. It is also unfair to those who cannot afford such services. Yet research on college admissions has repeatedly confirmed that test scores, as compared to high school grades, are relatively weak predictors of how students actually perform in college.

By design, norm-referenced tests reproduce the same bell-curve distribution of scores from one year to the next, with only minor differences. This makes it difficult to gauge progress accurately.

Rather than impose higher education’s antiquated regime of norm-referenced tests on K-12 schools, American education would be better served if the kind of criterion-referenced tests now increasingly employed in K-12 schools flowed upward, to our colleges and universities.

And by rewarding students’ efforts in the regular classroom, criterion-referenced exams reduce the importance of test-prep services, thus helping to level the playing field. They signal to students and teachers that persistence and hard work, not just native intelligence or family income, can bring college within reach. They are better suited to reinforce the learning of a rigorous curriculum in our poorest schools.

College admissions will never be perfectly fair and rational; the disparities are too deep for that. Yet the process can be fairer and more rational if we rethink the purposes of college-entrance exams.

The revised SAT takes promising steps away from its provenance as a test of general ability or aptitude — a job it never did well — and toward a test of what students are expected to learn in school. But the College Board should abandon the design that holds it back from fulfilling that promise.

Richard C. Atkinson is president emeritus of the University of California. Saul Geiser is a research associate at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley.

 

 

For Profit Colleges Announce Large Cutbacks

May 7th, 2015

On Wednesday two of the largest publicly traded for-profits announced substantial cuts, Inside Higher Ed reports. Education Management Corporation (EDMC) said it would gradually phase out 15 of 52 campus locations of the Art Institutes, which is one of the better known brands among for-profits. Roughly 5,400 students attend the closing campuses. Likewise, Career Education Corp. unveiled a broader restructuring. It’s winding down all 14 Sanford Brown College and Institute campuses and online programs over the next 18 months or so. It is also seeking to sell Briarcliffe College, Brooks Institute and Missouri College. Collectively, those institutions enroll about 8,600 students.

Corinthian filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware on Monday, along with two dozen affiliates. Its petition lists more than $100 million in debt owed to its secured lenders and at least $100 million more in unsecured debt. Its liabilities include $1.25 million in “trade debt” owed to Barclays Capital, most likely connected to Barclays’s attempts to sell the company, and hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to a host of law firms, which have handled an onslaught of litigation, The New York Times reports. Corinthian also owes an “unknown” amount to the Department of Education. It listed assets of $19.2 million. It has been a long slide for Corinthian, once a Wall Street darling. The company, founded in 1995, bought more than a dozen struggling vocational colleges and by 2010 enrolled more than 110,000 students online and at 100 Everest College, Heald College and WyoTech campuses nationwide.
From Real Clear Education

Top Items A College Freshman Should Have

May 6th, 2015

Meet the Must Have Stuff for a Freshman by Melissa Burns

So, it’s time to finally grow up and face with the adult life. You’re a freshman now and it seems like your life has turned upside down. Once you’re an incoming college freshman, you have to make a decision – what to bring with yourself and what should be left at home; what will be the most useful in the process and what should be left behind.  If you don’t have anyone around to help, we’re there to land you a hand. Therefore, here they are – top items college freshman should have. Mind that these things are not compulsory. Obviously you may have your own requirements.

Mobile Phone Charger

How many times you have you faced with the problem called low battery? No need to get panic stricken anymore. Isn’t it annoying to be unable to use your phone while it is plugged in? Make sure to always have your phone charger to stay connected with the crowd.

A Car

This point is not a must-have, but…it’s a must-be. While browsing all car brands here and there, make sure to pay attention to the ones that will be comfortable. And please – be realistic about your desires. We all want a cool hip sport car, but it’s not the most practical choice for the college life.

E-Books

Make sure to have electronic books right before the first college year begins. First of all, purchasing textbooks is pretty expensive, while downloading them directly to the internet is more than reasonable. Secondly, you are not going to like the idea of carrying tons of textbooks all over with you. That is why toting the e-books from class to class will be a real pleasure for you.

Academic Planner

That may be the exact planner you have used when in the high school (in case you have ever used one). Feel free to use it anywhere you life – when the test dates are approaching, the research paper is due, to schedule up family meetings and dates with pals, to remember to call your sister, to plan the dream vacation…this is definitely a must have for every freshman!

Printer

We all live in the era where techs are anywhere you go. However, it does not mean that your tutor lives in the same digital era as you do. That is why you should be ready to hand in tons of assignments. As a rule, universities provide their students with all required means of printing, but there are moments, when the world simply does not seem to like you and you can’t get access to the printer. A device of your own will serve you at the hardest times.

Extra Educational Money

Of course, it is not so much as a thing as it is just a friendly recommendation. The majority of college students are sometimes shocked by how expensive the textbooks are. You don’t think about it till the moment, when you actually realize that your bill at the local book stores reaches $400. Make certain you are ready to shell out some extra funds, and have a special notebook to put all the money spending in. This will provide you with an opportunity to keep track of all the items you have bought and decide whether you can spend more money or whether it’s time to cut down expenses.

Author’s bio:

Melissa Burns graduated from the faculty of Journalism of Iowa State University in 2008. Nowadays she is an entrepreneur and independent journalist. Her sphere of interests includes startups, information technologies and how these ones may be implemented in the sphere of education. You may contact Melissa via e-mail:burns.melissaa@gmail.com

College Ready Grade 12 Interventions Based on Secondary School Assessments

May 5th, 2015
With 47 states now administering high school assessments to gauge students’ mastery of college and career readiness standards in English language arts and math, states have an opportunity to use test results to make the final year of high school more impactful.

This ECS Education Policy Analysis delves into statewide high school college and career readiness assessments and how states are using them to overcome two persistent challenges — the “wasted senior year” and high postsecondary remediation rates.

The report is being released with an accompanying 50-state database containing information about how states use college readiness assessments to improve the 12th-grade year.

“In order to make the most of college and career readiness assessments, state policymakers should consider using results from those tests to make the senior year more meaningful,” said Jennifer Zinth, director of ECS’ High School Policy Center and STEM Policy Center. “This could mean using test results to identify students needing 12th-grade interventions or acceleration opportunities, for example. Utilizing the data by integrating college-ready cut scores into college admissions or placement policies also could help ‘signal’ college readiness.”

Some important takeaways from this report: 

  • Statewide college and career readiness assessments present an opportunity for states to identify students who would benefit from college readiness interventions or advanced coursework in 12th grade.
  • Relatively few states have articulated the scores on these assessments that deem a student college ready or in need of interventions to achieve college readiness by the end of 12th grade.
  • Adopting and implementing meaningful statewide intervention and acceleration policies means making numerous critical decisions on student identification metrics, forms of intervention, curriculum and instructional supports, to name just a few.

For questions, contact ECS Director of Communications Amy Skinner at askinner@ecs.org or (303) 299.3609. 

 

Best Language Learning Tools for College Students

May 4th, 2015

BY JANE HURST

Depending on what you are majoring in, it could come in pretty handy to know more than one language. The only problem is, learning a new language is tough, and that is just one more thing to add to your study plate. Luckily, there are many online language tools that you can use to help you learn a new language in your spare time. You may even be able to use what you have learned towards course credits. Here are some of the best online language tools for college students.

  • Duolingo – This tool helps you to learn languages through translating web pages. You translate the web as you are browsing, thereby learning to read a new language. Most of the exercises involved translating and dictating, and there are a few languages you can choose from. The courses are designed like games, and if you lose too many lives, you must take the lesson all over again.
  • Learning Hebrew – If you are involved with Jewish studies, you can enhance your Hebrew studies at this website. Find the top 10 methods of learning Hebrew online, the Hebrew alphabet, and even learn Hebrew slang. This tool is absolutely free to use, and makes learning Hebrew fun.
  • Memrise – This goes past the normal vocabulary of other language programs and into subjects such as science and history. It is another flashcard program designed to make you remember what you have learned. It also makes learning a new language fun, gaming up the process. This is a free, web-based tool, and there are also iOS and Android apps available.
  • BBC Languages – This tool is the most comprehensive language tool on the Internet. There are 40 BBC language websites for every level of learner, from beginner to advanced. Learn such languages as Greek, Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Urdu, and many more. There are audio courses, interactive video courses, games, and other lessons to help you learn a new language.
  • Livemocha – Find lessons in more than 38 languages with this mostly-free tool. You will find live classes, be able to chat with native speakers, watch tutorial videos, and a whole lot more, in the comfort of your own home. Private tutoring is even available, and you can use social media to learn from native speakers all over the world.
  • Babbel – Is your class taking a trip to Europe, and you want to be able to communicate with people while you are there? You need Babbel, which is a portable instructional tool that is available in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Swedish, and Portuguese. It will even assess your pronunciation and provide feedback so you know you are saying things properly. You can study what you want to study, such as specific vocabulary for certain situations (studies, travel, etc.).
  • Pimsleur Method – This is an audio-based learning tool that makes you participate through sound and speaking exercises, as well as memorization through the use of flash cards. There are reading and vocabulary exercises, as well as speaking and reading aloud. There are more than 50 languages you can learn from the Pimsleur Method, which has been successfully teaching languages since the 1960’s.
  • Anki – This is like the flashcard games you played as a kid. The focus is on memorizing things. You will see a word, phrase, or an image, and then you repeat and interpret it, and then memorize it. This is not only great for learning new languages, but also for many other areas of study. This tool is free and is available for Windows, OSX, Linux/BSD, iOS, and Android users.

Byline:

Jane Hurst has been working in education for over 5 years as a teacher. She loves sharing her knowledge with students, is fascinated about edtech and loves reading

Earnings Of Career Technical Education Students Exceeds 4 Year Graduates

May 1st, 2015
Postsecondary
Tool crunches earnings of CO graduates

Colorado higher education officials released a new report and searchable online tool detailing earnings one, five and 10 years after students earn a credential from Colorado colleges and universities. Early-career earnings of graduates with technical, career-oriented associates degrees — or even some certificate programs — can meet or exceed those of graduates with many bachelor’s degrees. (Denver Post, April 30) and ECS