Closed Test Centers – July ACT

Dear Academic Approach Families and Colleagues:The long-awaited update from ACT has arrived, but it was unfortunately not good news for many students. Nationwide, many of the July testing sites were canceled or had their capacities reduced displacing students eager to test. As we look back on the last few months, this is now our third ACT national Saturday test date impacted and seventh if you include SAT test administrations. We are all left with many unknowns, and no one is more impacted than our students.Here is what we do know:Some students have been able to move to new testing sites. The ACT has extended testing changes to tomorrow, July 1st, to allow student to move to locations still available. This will not happen automatically, and local testing sites are reduced. While options are limited, we encourage you to reach out to ACT directly as they will have the most up-to-date availability (319-337-1270). Cautionary note: the wait time may be hours. For those who are unable to test in July, the ACT has added multiple new test administrations for September and October. Registration will open at the end of July and students are allowed, dare we say encouraged, to register for multiple administrations. SeptemberSaturday, September 12Sunday, September 13Saturday, September 19OctoberSaturday, October 10Saturday, October 17Saturday, October 24Sunday, October 25 For our students ready to test, this is yet another challenge in the long road that has been School Year 2019-2020. We will continue to update you as we learn more and work to strategize for each student’s unique and challenging timeline. We wish nothing more than to have safe and consistent testing this fall. Be well,Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-06-30T16:29:50+00:00June 30, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on Closed Test Centers – July ACT

The Needs of Rising Freshmen

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:As schools continue to discuss what education will look like in the fall, we're diving back into the topic of readiness. We've shared with you research on the challenges of academic learning loss and COVID slide. Students may be significantly far behind in the fall, because of the additional time out of school this spring and inconsistent engagement. This is especially true in math and will likely be demonstrated on college entrance exams as well.Why is this summer especially critical for rising freshmen?One critical turning point for students is the jump from middle school to high school. Extensive research from the University of Chicago Consortium for School Research has highlighted the importance of performance in the freshman year of high school to long-term outcomes. Students are considered on-track if, at the end of their freshman year of high school, they:Accumulate five full course creditsHave no more than one failing grade in a core subject (English, math, science, or social studies)Students that are on-track at the end of ninth grade are nearly three-times more likely to graduate from high school. It's urgent that we prepare our students to be successful in the freshman year of high school this fall to ensure they are ready for college down the road.How is Academic Approach helping?We know how essential academic skills are for students returning to school this fall. In addition, we've done extensive analysis on the skills relevant to success in high school performance and how they relate to college readiness. We're preparing our middle school (and soon-to-be-high-school!) students with our new, robust middle school curriculum. We've carefully designed this curriculum not only to prepare students for high school entrance exams like the ISEE, SSAT, HSPT, NWEA-MAP, and Chicago and New York Selective Enrollment Exams, but also to help them bridge between middle school and high school. We've identified and scaffolded key skills that students will need throughout high school to prepare for college success, and we're providing them with the building blocks they need in middle school to get there.Be well,Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-06-29T15:42:30+00:00June 29, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on The Needs of Rising Freshmen

Considerations for College Reopenings

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:Today, we'll share some plans from colleges on how they'll be addressing the challenges of reducing risk to students, faculty, and staff on campuses this fall.Challenges for Residential CampusesDespite the many challenges inherent in decreasing COVID risk, many colleges have already announced plans to return to residential campuses in the fall. Campuses are considering a number of adjustments, including incorporating remote classes, adjusting the academic calendar to remove breaks, and providing frequent free testing of students and staff. Some campuses have settled on firmer plans, like the University of Michigan, while other schools have only released recommendations, such as Cornell University. They're considering using online tools for daily health screenings for faculty, staff, and students in addition to face mask and hygiene recommendations. Campuses are also considering how to address potential outbreaks that may happen on campuses, including quarantine and isolation procedures for sick students.In addition, campuses are considering modifications to non-academic programming as well as housing and dining halls. Students may be surprised by a markedly different campus experience in the fall (should they return) to support their health and safety.The Virtual ApproachOther campuses are pushing ahead with fully virtual options for students. Arizona State University is offering 3 options for classes: the "immersion" option (on-campus, in-person), "sync," which allows for synchronous, technology-enhanced remote learning (and may be used in combination with immersion instruction), and iCourses, which will be fully remote. Remote options will allow for less dense campuses and hopefully reduce potential spread of disease. California State University is planning to deliver almost all instruction virtually in the fall.Be well,Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-06-25T15:47:07+00:00June 25, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on Considerations for College Reopenings

Answering Your Questions: Fall ACT Dates

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:We appreciated all of your valuable questions regarding the ACT Test Schedule Updates we communicated yesterday, so we’re highlighting a few of your FAQs below for further clarification.ACT Test Schedule UpdateACT announced three new fall test dates they are adding to the national testing schedule: September 19, October 10, and October 17. With additional national Saturday and Sunday test dates, there are now 8 total fall opportunities for students to take the ACT. These test dates will include two of ACT's "planned enhancements"--online testing at select sites and superscoring--but will not allow single-section retesting. ACT is also working with schools and districts to provide additional school day options.Does this mean the July ACT has been canceled? No, that date has not been canceled by ACT. Existing test centers are still offering the July test. Site-level information will be released by the end of June. In the Chicagoland area, seats are no longer available for students who have not yet registered. When can I register for the fall dates? ACT stated, “In addition to the new test dates, all students will be able to register for existing non-Saturday test dates in September and October when registration opens at the end of July.”How is superscoring impacted by ACT postponing single subject retesting?Superscoring will still happen and will factor in each full test a student has taken. The specific admissions policy, however, varies from school to school. Head here for an up-to-date list of policies for some popular schools.Please continue to send us your questions and we'll do our best to answer them.Be well,Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO  

By |2020-06-24T17:48:13+00:00June 24, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on Answering Your Questions: Fall ACT Dates

New ACT Dates Announced & Illinois Reopening Requirements

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues: Today, we're sharing some test date updates for ACT and SAT. We're also sharing more details on school openings in the fall, with the Illinois State Board of Education's new recommendations for school reopenings released today. Test Date Updates This afternoon, ACT announced 3 new fall test dates they are adding to the national testing schedule: September 19, October 10, and October 17. With additional national Saturday and Sunday test dates, there are now 8 total fall opportunities for students to take the ACT. These test dates will all include ACT's "planned enhancements," including online testing at select sites and superscoring, but will not allow single-section retesting to provide more opportunities for first-time test takers in need of full ACT scores. ACT is also working with schools and districts to provide additional school day options. Here is the updated ACT schedule for this fall: September Saturday, September 12 (existing) Sunday, September 13 (non-Saturday, existing) Saturday, September 19 (new) October Saturday, October 10 (new) Saturday, October 17 (new) Saturday, October 24 (existing) Sunday, October 25 (non-Saturday, existing) December Saturday, December 12 (existing) Illinois also released the fall school-day SAT test date this week. The school day SAT for rising seniors will be on October 14th this fall, replacing the test that was canceled in April of 2020. Illinois School Reopening Requirements Announced Today, Illinois also released its plan and recommendations for school reopenings this fall. The state is strongly recommending that schools resume in-person instruction if they are able to adhere to the state's guidelines including the use of personal protective equipment and allowing for social distancing. They also require increased cleaning and health monitoring and mandate no groups larger than 50. Districts are directed to develop plans appropriate to their context. The recommendations and guidelines strongly prioritize in-person learning for high-need students and students under the age of 13. For schools that are unable to meet the guidelines, however, the state instead allows for the development of "Remote Blended Learning" schedules that combine e-learning and in-person instruction. The state will provide masks to all students and staff across the state and are procuring safety and cleaning supplies for schools. Should conditions and progress in reducing spread of COVID across Illinois change as we head into the fall, the state's guidelines may change as well. We're continuing to work with families and schools to support them in developing plans for student learning and college readiness. If you have a question about how these announcements may impact your student's tutoring program, please reach out to us. Be well, Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-06-23T15:37:00+00:00June 23, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on New ACT Dates Announced & Illinois Reopening Requirements

K12 School Reopenings: Considerations for Fall

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:As we ease into summer, schools are already considering options for school return in the fall, with a variety of considerations for a drastically different school year. Below, we outline some of the thinking we've seen so far at the K-12 level.K-12 ConsiderationsMany K-12 districts are reflecting on lessons learned from remote learning this spring around equity, engagement, and outcomes for students. Most school and district leaders are still hoping for options that allow students to return, in some capacity, for in-person learning in the fall. The CDC has released a number of recommendations around rearranging physical spaces to reduce risk, including considering student "pods" that limit the number of exposures a student can have (which can be enormous at the high school level) and having teachers rotate instead of students. Recommendations around student spacing to allow for social distancing dramatically reduces the number of students that can fit into a classroom. Districts must consider how to limit risks not only in classrooms, but also in hallways, in cafeterias, on school buses, and other areas where students may congregate.Districts Weighing ProposalsTo reduce the exposure and risk of students and staff, districts are convening task forces and drafting plans to address these recommendations. Detroit, for example, has released a draft reopening plan that involves in-person learning for high school students on alternate weeks to reduce the number of students in the building and increasing the focus on core classes like literacy and math while in-person while virtual classes offer more elective options. Many schools are soliciting feedback from families, including New York City. The Illinois State Board of Education plans to release their recommendations for school reopenings by the end of June.Tomorrow, we'll explore some of the options colleges and universities are considering for the fall.Be well,Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-06-22T17:03:52+00:00June 22, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on K12 School Reopenings: Considerations for Fall

Academic Approach on How to Keep Students Prepared for the Fall

Each fall, students return to their schools fresh off summer experiences and ready to learn. Teachers welcome the opportunity to build on the previous year’s achievements. However, research shows that students show up in the fall behind where they left in off in June. With the current challenges facing students and schools, this will likely be amplified this year. These losses tend to be especially pronounced in math and in the upper grades. Academic Approach is focused on how to keep our students academically prepared—both in maintaining knowledge for the fall and in building core academic skills necessary to keep them on track in high school and college. To address the rising concern of families and educators seeking to support their students academically, we have created new math enrichment packages and are offering our individual sessions of one-on-one tutoring at 25% off while schools remain closed. Current concerns and the challenge ahead Over an average summer, students lose as much as 25% of the previous school year’s learning. New research suggests this effect will likely be amplified this year, with students arriving in the fall with only 70% of their typical reading gains and less than 50% of their typical math learning gains. Students will leave this school year with a vastly different educational experience than they have in the past—and teachers are already concerned about how to address those learning gaps in the fall, when they will inherit a cohort of students who, in many ways, have not fully completed the grade before. What can families do? Analysis has shown that reading and math programming over the summer raised test scores and reduced the learning loss students experienced. This research showed that programs were most effective when incorporating high-quality instructional strategies, when students spent more time on task, and when students were engaged consistently throughout the summer. This can be our roadmap: with excellent instruction and engagement, students can stay academically on track even while out of school. What high-quality instructional moves can families make at home? The first is to identify the gaps: what were the skills and learning your student had not yet mastered this year that may be important in the future? By both assessing their progress so far and looking ahead to what they did not get to learn, you can develop a comprehensive assessment of what work is needed in the months ahead. How is Academic Approach addressing the challenge? We’re focused on how to keep our students academically prepared for the fall with the core academic skills necessary to keep them on track in high school and college. Our instructors are delivering engaging, personalized content to ensure that students won’t return to classrooms unprepared for the next year’s work, especially core math skills. We’re using our expertise in college readiness and skills-based teaching to support student academic progress and success in these challenging times. Originally Appeared on View Original Article

By |2022-02-04T15:12:21+00:00June 22, 2020|Academic Approach, Press|Comments Off on Academic Approach on How to Keep Students Prepared for the Fall

ACT: Single Subject Testing Postponed & Fall Testing Updates

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:We’re writing with some ACT updates that will impact summer and fall testing.ACT is postponing its single subject testing scheduled for the fall in order to increase capacity for students wanting to take the full ACT in the fall. After the challenges experienced by many students with June cancellations and July registration, the capacity needs are greater than ever. The single subject testing option will be released sometime in 2021. Students will only be able to take full-length ACT tests this fall at all test sites.For students that are registered for the July test, ACT plans to release open/closed status for test sites by "the end of June"; they are seeking to expand test locations (and possibly add additional test dates) for the fall; and they are still planning to provide online testing (with faster score reporting times) at select sites. Superscoring will still be offered on score reports starting in September.ACT is continuing to pursue a remote proctoring solution "on a limited basis" in late fall/early winter and is working with a "trusted, reliable partner to deliver this capability in safe and secure environments beyond students' homes.” College Board initially planned to offer this option in the fall but walked back that plan after concerns arising from remote AP testing.Please let us know if we can help unpack any of these updates and their significance for your planning and programming.Be well,Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-06-18T17:00:33+00:00June 18, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on ACT: Single Subject Testing Postponed & Fall Testing Updates

Writing Strategies for Summer

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:With school e-learning ending and many long days ahead, we’re focusing this week on summer academic enrichment. Today, we’re focusing on writing.ResearchTeaching writing has not been as well-researched as reading or math. What limited research exists shows varied efficacy of different approaches to teaching and learning writing. Three broad trends emerged in writing instruction: (1) direct instruction on the writing process, (2) approaching writing as a more collaborative process with classmates, (3) integrating reading with writing. Most classrooms included some combination of these approaches, and each approach saw varying levels of success for students.Ultimately, we do see a few research-supported strategies in writing instruction:Students benefit from practicing writing in different genres and learning writing strategies specific to that genreExplicit grammar instruction is essential and should be taught in the context of authentic student writingWriting in particular benefits from students motivated to write on topics that are interesting or important to themAdditional ResourcesFind great writing prompts on this NYTimes spotlightThe site 750Words helps writers track how much they are writingIn this article, the College Board provides some helpful insights for admissions essay writingOpportunities for Learning with Academic ApproachWe're supporting students with their summer reading & writing as they hone their skills in preparation for fall coursework. Our targeted programming wraps a high-impact skill building supplement around a student’s summer reading to develop reading skills, essay composition strategies, and grammar skills for proofreading. Many summer reading assignments are accompanied by a writing assignment, and ACT and SAT both feature grammar and essay writing sections, so we can leverage summer reading & writing as a learning opportunity both on and beyond the test.Be well,Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-06-17T13:52:21+00:00June 17, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on Writing Strategies for Summer

Reading Essentials for Summer

Dear Academic Approach Families & Colleagues:With school e-learning ending and many long days ahead, we’re focusing this week on summer academic enrichment. Yesterday, we focused on math, the subject students tend to fall the furthest behind on while out of school. Today, we’re focusing on reading.  Studies into reading have often found that students do not spend enough time actually reading texts--even in school. Students spend as little as 15 minutes per school day actually reading texts in the intermediate grades. Time spent reading both increases students' comprehension skills and allows for the acquisition of new knowledge from the texts themselves. The new knowledge then provides students with a broader understanding of concepts that allows them to access more and more challenging texts.Recommended Reading EssentialsUltimately, the best way to grow as a reader is to read more challenging texts. We've put together this recommended summer reading list--separated by genre and level. Though not comprehensive, this list can help students get started in selecting rigorous, challenging texts to engage with at home.Opportunities for Learning with Academic ApproachWe're offering targeted programming to support students with their summer reading as they hone their skills in preparation for fall coursework. We'll wrap a high-impact skill building supplement around a student’s summer reading to develop annotation and summarizing skills, essay composition strategies, and grammar skills for proofreading. As always, our curriculum and instruction are tied to the skills most predictive of college success in English and reading.  Be well,Matthew Pietrafetta, Ph.D., Founder & CEO

By |2020-06-16T16:55:48+00:00June 16, 2020|Letter|Comments Off on Reading Essentials for Summer
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