AP Exams Begin with Controversy

Dear Academic Approach Families and Colleagues:College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) online testing opened today and the controversies mount, ranging from issues with technology to questions of student conduct to matters of equity.TechnologyAP Physics launched today with some challenges. While College Board’s demo is clear and logical on the AP Coronavirus page, College Board reports that 2% of students had trouble with upload. Many teachers took to Twitter to voice concerns: teacher after teacher after teacher…Student Conduct Concerns have been raised about the heightened potential for cheating with at-home testing. Given the way the exams are administered, there is nothing save our students’ personal integrity (which is everything) to keep them from being on a group call with friends collaborating on answers. Students should review College Board’s security violation FAQs.Equity Possibly the biggest concern about AP testing (and all at-home testing) is equity. Beyond just access to a reliable device and internet access, many low-income students might not have a quiet, secure place to test. Since AP completion can mean credit for college courses low-income students would otherwise have to pay for, their lack of access has real financial consequences.What's Next?Despite these glitches, offering these tests at all was a major accomplishment by College Board--and was overwhelmingly requested by AP students who wanted the opportunity to demonstrate their learning from the year. We'll be eager to see how tests proceed the rest of this week.We are hopeful we can find a way as an education system to maintain academic rigor and continuity with reliable, equitable access as we continue to navigate at-home learning. We tell our students mistakes are opportunities to learn, and there is no learning without the analysis of error, but the key to this is the commitment to analysis and a thorough process of correction.Be well,Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-05-11T16:51:42+00:00May 11, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on AP Exams Begin with Controversy

A Few Updates on the ACT and AP Exams

Academic Approach Families and Colleagues:To close out the week, we wanted to share with you a few test updates on the ACT and AP testing.ACT UpdatesPer a webinar this week, final decisions on the June test date will be made on a test-site-by-test-site basis and will be confirmed by May 22. As of right now, students can switch their registration from June to July for no change fee if they desire, and the June ACT registration deadline is today, May 8. The representative from ACT said they were hopeful that many test sites could proceed in June and were very confident that the July test date will proceed.ACT is still planning to roll out section retesting and online (test-center based) testing this fall, which will give students the opportunity to take one, two, or three sections rather than a full ACT test. Students must have taken a full-length ACT after September 2016 in order to be eligible for section retesting. Registration for September testing will open in July.Online, at-home testing will be rolled out in late fall/early winter, so it may not be a great option for many juniors to wait, especially if they are applying early. September, October, and December ACT tests are currently scheduled normally. Assuming measures are in place to test safely, we encourage students to plan to test in person.AP ExamsWith AP exams kicking off next week, College Board has released a demo version of AP Practice Tests for students to practice with their online testing platform. Type in “PRACTICE” as your AP ID to access this tool. More info here.Be well,Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-05-08T11:19:57+00:00May 8, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on A Few Updates on the ACT and AP Exams

Further Opportunities to Prevent the COVID Slide in Math

Dear Academic Approach Families and Colleagues:Today, we’re sharing two more math pathways we’ve designed to support higher-level math students. Both target the math content students are encountering in sophomore and junior year math courses.Algebra II for College-Level RigorInstructors build on skills commonly taught in Algebra II courses. This includes challenging skills that are needed for tough ACT/SAT questions and college readiness, including nonlinear equations, factoring, solving quadratic equations, and conics. An in-depth understanding of these topics is critical for progressing to the next level of math, and we want to ensure that students are ready to move beyond Algebra II.Advanced Number TopicsThis pathway focuses on broader topics that are included in many precalculus curricula. These skills allow students to fully understand advanced number properties—and what they can and cannot do with these numbers. The foundations of these skills are crucial to success in college level math and STEM classes. Some topics instructors may include complex numbers, logarithms, trigonometry, matrices, and vectors as well as an overview of discrete math and rational/irrational numbers.We hope these math module overviews have been helpful to you in considering how to best support your students as they continue to progress through math courses this spring and prepare to return to higher-level math courses next school year!Be well,Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-05-07T17:10:20+00:00May 7, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on Further Opportunities to Prevent the COVID Slide in Math

Preventing the COVID Slide in Math Skills

Dear Academic Approach Families and Colleagues:We’ve shared some of the research with you that’s directed us to develop new, personalized math modules for our students. Today and tomorrow, I wanted to give you some insight into on how we’re digging into specific math concepts to support student learning and growth—filling gaps they may have missed, supporting the work they’re doing now, and preparing them to return to school ready for higher-level math. These short pathways engage students for eight hours to deeply understand a specific set of topics.Math in the Real WorldInstructors work with students on math skills that they will use for their entire lives and are crucial for college readiness. These skills foster critical thinking and allow students to analyze and interpret a variety of data distributions and models. Students will dive deeply into statistics, probability, and data representation. Learn more from this podcast episode that digs into the importance—and under-representation—of data analysis skills in today’s math curriculum for successful critical thinkers.Mathematical Foundations Often, skills that are learned when students are younger will fade if not practiced or built upon. This pathway focuses on skills that would have been covered before a student enters their high school math classes and will still be used in their future math careers. It includes essential skills like ratios and proportional thinking, unit conversions, percents, and linear equations. Student understanding of these topics will extend to the higher levels of rigor needed to be successful in high school and college math.Tomorrow, we’ll share with you two more courses we’ve developed designed for higher-level math students.Be well,Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-05-06T17:25:54+00:00May 6, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on Preventing the COVID Slide in Math Skills

Math & the COVID Slide

Dear Academic Approach Families and Colleagues: We know that focusing first on having students engaged in their own well-being is essential to giving them the brain space to focus on academic growth. Today, we're digging further into the challenge and opportunities for students in academics, specifically math. The Challenge: COVID Slide Many parents and schools are growing increasingly concerned about the impact of learning loss this spring and summer. School districts have had varying levels of success engaging students, with many reporting low attendance and engagement with remote learning. These challenges are exacerbated by inequities in access to remote learning, including devices and connectivity concerns for low-opportunity students. In addition, many schools and districts are forgoing traditional grading and retention policies--meaning students will be moving into the next grade in the fall, regardless of their end of year progress. The increased time out of school has led to research predicting increased losses in foundational skills for students returning in the fall, which they are calling "COVID slide." Current research predicts students may retain only 50% of the gains they made in math this year. Moreover, math--especially high-school level math--may be content parents are least comfortable in teaching and supporting their children. The Opportunity Teachers know this challenge is coming--and many of our nation's excellent teachers will be working hard over the summer to prepare for just this situation. In addition, the time off gives our students the opportunity to really engage in meaningful inquiry into topics that interest them; outside of the traditional school structure, they may choose to treat this time as an opportunity for independent study into the abundant learning resources available online. We're developing new, personalized math courses to support our students in maintaining and deepening their math knowledge to prepare for the next school year. We'll be sharing more details on these courses tomorrow. Be well, Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-05-05T16:36:00+00:00May 5, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on Math & the COVID Slide

Maintaining Math Progress during School Closures

Dear Academic Approach Families and Colleagues: First off, as we begin Teacher Appreciation Week, a huge THANK YOU to our TEACHERS, who are working so hard and so creatively to keep our students engaged. The value of high quality teachers—if it went underappreciated—will emerge from all this forever elevated. As a parent, I’m impressed by the effort and creativity of my own children’s teachers to help them maintain academic progress and stay engaged. As an educator, I’m impressed by the rapid innovations at schools, adapting and evolving quickly to maintain academic progress. One area of instruction—and the current innovations in teaching it—that interests us most is math. Personally, it’s the homeschool topic du jour in my house. I’m seeing my children’s teachers utilize a range of tech platforms and creative project-based learning assignments to keep math learning engaged and visible. Professionally, it’s the subject that our data show require the greatest supplemental support to advance significantly. We’ll be spending this week with math on our minds, sharing research and some instructional solutions we’ve designed to help.Be well,Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-05-04T17:06:37+00:00May 4, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on Maintaining Math Progress during School Closures
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